Zigbee: Define "Open" Standard

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Zigbee is another proclaimed "open" standard, but what does that mean?
How open is zigbee.

In this slashdot thread, someone mentions that the spec should be
available sometime Q1 `05 for free.  Its currently, what, $7500?

Will the spec open up?  I'd be happy to work on an Open Source Software
stack for Zigbee, but i'll be damned if I'm paying $7500 to do so.  And
I'll be double damned if I cant sell anything I make with the stack
since I didnt pay for a commercial license.

So far the only low cost zigbee solution I've seen is Microship's PICDEM
Z, which incorporates its own software stack.

I'm just a hobbyist developer.  I looked at Zensys' Z-Wave, but the
$2500 development kit put me off.  I've been banking on Zigbee, but am
worried about whether the free status will reach amateur developers like


Re: Zigbee: Define "Open" Standard
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Please keep us updated on what you find.
Zigbee looks to be lots of fun, but the
protocol issue really needs to resolved,
hopefully in a free and open way.

Re: Zigbee: Define "Open" Standard
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I guess it is currently only "open" for its members.

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I know there are plans and pressures to make the details public.
However, "free" --if ever-- won't be fast because many member companies
are expecting to take their piece of the cake since that's what they
paid for (aka ROI).

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Last time I checked it was not really ZigBee since it is not ZigBee
compatible (based on a draft of the standard). Since ZB 1.0 is now out
I hope they will update the code to make it ZB compliant. Also, I think
Microchip is targetting the most simple ZB configurations since many of
the interesting network functionality that ZB promises is missing.

Motorola also has some ZB kits and stack (Codewarrior libs - made by
Figure8, IIRC). Check http://www.freescale.com/zigbee

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If you only need a simple RF link without the burden of the ZB network
layer, the 802.15.4 standard is available (PHY+DATA layer):


You can use all those 802.15.4 transceivers available out there
(Chipcon, Freescale, etc.)

If you are looking for something *really* open to implement low data
rate meshable WPANs, check out tinyOS at http://www.tinyOS.net . Mature,
stable, actively developed, fantastic user group and it works *today*.
And no doubt it will be ZB compatible once the standard opens ;)


PabloBleyerKocik /"I believed that people would become programmers
pbleyer        / and not need companies as much. You can see how
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Re: Zigbee: Define "Open" Standard
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Open means you can get it.  Apparantly, you can get it now.  Hence it's
"open".  It sounds like you're upset about the price.  That's a
different issue entirely.  Try getting the recipe for Coca-Cola.

$7500 is less than having a certification lab run through FCC, CE, and
UL testing on a product.  Based on that, I'd say that the $7500 price is
probably not keeping any serious players out of Zigbee.  If the price
drops to something more less, that's great.

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It's partly supposed to put you off.  When I worked at ZWorld, the
marketing / sales VP (long since chased off) was rather open about
pricing our dev kits high enough to keep the hobbyists away - his
rationale was that the hobbyists tended to eat up a lot of tech support
time with no high-volume sales to pay for it.  In my experience, he was
absolutely correct at the time.  Luckily, there are now online support
groups where users can help each other so that the tech support people
can do other things than answering the questions that hobbyists often
come up with.

Not only that, but I would imagine that Zensys needs to offset their
development costs somehow, and the market for Zigbee dev kits is
probably somewhat limited.


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I havent actively looked at getting my hardware releasable, but isnt
this a large point of having standards like 802.15.4?  Someone else's
reference gets certified and you can just stamp a part 97 label on the
back and ship?


Re: Zigbee: Define "Open" Standard

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I think they say it is 'based' on an open standard, meaning 802.15.4.

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At present, not at all - just try asking for the spec.

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I guess the Zigbee standard will remain relatively closed, since its
developers want some return on their investment.

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In a sense, the open source community is part of the problem. What is
the point of anyone developing a commercial Zigbee stack, if they know
the open-soruce community will produce code that is free, and of equal
(or higher) standard? So, the commercial developers have to keep the
open-sourcers out of Zigbee, by restricting access to the
specification and any products derived from it.

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Prices of development kits will come down, but I guess they'll be
based on pre-built Zigbee stacks, not open-sorce code. Some vendors
such as CompXs already include the Zigbee code on-chip.

Allegedly the main attraction of  Zigbee is just the mesh networking
capability. Maybe some competition is needed; anyone interested in an
open-source alternative, or are all the good mesh techniques already

Jeremy Bentham
Iosoft Ltd.

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