The IEEE 802.15.4 wireless protocol is the foundation for the ZigBee, a set of specs. IEEE stands for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, an organization that seeks to support the development of technology related to electronics and electronic devices. The “802 group” refers to the network operations and technologies, while “15” specializes even further in wireless network technologies.
However, the number—as precise as they may be—are quite a mouthful for most people. Thus, the catchier term of Zigbee has been developed. Zigbee is actually the spontaneous flitting of bees from flower to flower, which tends to form a “Z” pattern. This is thought to be a good metaphor for the invisible webs of connections existing in a fully wireless environment.
Zigbee’s goal is to improve the connectivity between small packet devices. This has enabled users to have gadgets that offer a lot of features at a reasonable price. Zigbee devices tend to be more affordable than Bluetooth. However, the Zigbee gadgets tend to have a lower through-rate.
Zigbee addresses the growing need to connect small, low power devices. One of its most common and practical uses is to connect transmitters to a central computer. It is sometimes used to make smoke alarms or to make centralized lighting systems. There are also plans to use Zigbee to automate household tasks.
Zigbee requires the gadgets to be within 250 feet, which is actually wider than that provided by Bluetooth. However, Zigbee has yet to overcome security issues, and it has been criticized for its poor battery life.