ZigBee technology is intended to take much of the pain and difficulty out of adding short-range, robust wireless to products that once relied upon expensive wiring or proprietary radios.

HomeToys Interview

Jon Adams and Robert Nguyen | Freescale and Panasonic Electronic Devices

HomeToys Interview
Panasonic adopts ZigBee via Freescale's platform

Jon Adams, director of Radio Technology and Strategy, Freescale
Robert Nguyen, General manager of Panasonic Electronic Devices

ZigBee technology is intended to take much of the pain and difficulty out of adding short-range, robust wireless to products that once relied upon expensive wiring or proprietary radios.

1) What does Panasonic see as the major advantage of ZigBee as a wireless technology?

PANASONIC: ZigBee protocol working on top of the IEEE802.15.4 radio standard offers the Sensor and Remote Control community of users more technology advantage in terms of flexibility in the network from simple, as point to point, to real complex, as mesh network, with very high quantity of nodes. This feature coupled itself with very low power consumption of the radio, fills the real needs of the users community. Further, ZigBee Alliance has been founded and supported by a number of big companies who are already big users of sensing and remote monitoring devices.

2) What is the primary use for ZigBee as opposed to WiFi, Bluetooth etc.?

 FREESCALE: ZigBee wireless technology allows you to develop and deploy low-power, long-battery-life (if desired) control and sensor networks, in the home, office, commercial space, or factory, without the expense of pulling wires. It is not a competitor to either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technologies, as those are designed and commonly used for voice or large quantities of data without regard to power consumption or battery life.

3) How does Panasonic currently use the ZigBee module internally?

PANASONIC: ZigBee modules are being planned to be used inside the very factory (PEDCA-BC, Panasonic Elctronic Devices, Baja California) that is producing the modules. The application is Asset Tracking for numerous applications in the factory.

4) What are Panasonic's future plans for products using Freescale's ZigBee technology, moving forward?

PANASONIC: Moving forward, we will introduce more Module Products i.e smaller size; extended ranges; and integrate more features to make the job of our OEM customers even easier.

5) When will consumers begin to see some of these products and which will be first to market?

PANASONIC: : In addition to making our product available at Arrow Electronics, we are engaging with many strategic customers which we can not disclose because of NDA --- but we are projecting that within the first half of 2006; the market will start seeing ZigBee based end products.

6) Will these ZigBee products be compatible with ZigBee products from other manufacturers? If so how does that work?

FREESCALE: All products that carry a ZigBee logo are exhaustively tested for interoperability and compliance to the ZigBee specifications before the logo is awarded. Vendors who start with ZigBee compliant platforms, like that developed by Freescale and employed by Panasonic in their new module, have an advantage since the platform has already demonstrated through Alliance testing basic interoperability and compatibility. When a final product is built from a ZigBee compliant platform, either of the two Alliance testing houses can quickly determine its conformance to the specifications, and with successful testing the Alliance can issue the logo for that product.

7) How does Freescale see this impacting the market and Freescale's work with ZigBee overall?

FREESCALE: ZigBee technology is intended to take much of the pain and difficulty out of adding short-range, robust wireless to products that once relied upon expensive wiring or proprietary radios. For most of the intended markets, expertise with radios, antennas, and communications protocols is not part of the core expertise, whether the manufacturer builds washing machines, garage door openers, or asset management products. The ZigBee platform developed by Freescale eliminates much of the challenge of adding wireless to a product, but even so still requires some level of experience with developing a wireless device. Panasonic's ZigBee module, based upon Freescale's ZigBee compliant platform, makes it extremely simple for nearly anyone to immediately add ZigBee wireless to their product without any learning cycle. In addition, Panasonic has already obtained both FCC and Industry Canada regulatory certification for this module which allows the customer to avoid potentially the cost and complexity of doing their own certification.

Robert Nguyen has been working for Panasonic Electronic Devices sinc 2001. Prior to joining Panasonic he had worked for General Dynamics, Electronics Div. which subsequently became BAE Systems for over 22 years. He currently is responsible for developing Wireless Communication Module business in North America for Panasonic. His first love was Digital Design for Embedded Systems --- although principal engagements now are business development and successful program management. Robert graduated from San Diego State University with both BSEE and MSEE Degree specilizing in Communication.

Jon Adams is an expert in wireless systems and communications, with his current focus on ZigBee and Ultra Wideband technologies, representing Freescale on the board of directors for the ZigBee Alliance, as president of the UWB Forum, and as a voting member in the IEEE 802.11 (WLAN), 802.15 (WPAN) and 802.16 (WMAN) Working Groups. Additional interests include RFID, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, as well as the impact of these on cellular telephony and the consumer experience. Jon presents and is often interviewed or published on these technologies and their impacts on or potentials for the home, commercial and industrial environments. Prior to Freescale, Jon spent 17 years at the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California where he was the cognizant engineer or manager for multiple Earth-orbiting or Mars-bound telecommunications or radar payloads. He has BSE and MSEE degrees from UCLA.

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