The ZigBee Light Link standard promises to offer consumers a plug-and-play method of wirelessly linking sensors, switches and LED lighting products, and IC makers Texas Instruments (TI) and Atmel have developed Golden Unit implementations against which compliant products will be certified. Both companies have based the solid-state lighting (SSL)-centric platforms on microcontrollers (MCUs) that host a ZigBee software stack.
TI calls its CC2530 IC a system on chip (SoC) because it integrates the MCU, memory, and wireless RF transceiver in one package. The company says that the IC will enable ZigBee nodes with a low bill of materials cost, although the company didn't yet announce pricing for the product.
"ZigBee Light Link is expected to transform the lighting industry, making it easy for non-professionals to network and control their LED lighting from smartphones, tablets, gateways and more," said Mark Grazier, program manager of wireless sensor networks at TI. Indeed, TI demonstrated an Android smartphone controlling LED lighting via a low-cost wireless gateway at the Taipei conference.
The Golden Unit status is conferred to a product by the ZigBee Alliance with the goal of helping end-product developers to speed products to market. "As a certified Golden Unit, TI's CC2530 quickly enables manufacturers to productize their ZigBee Light Link devices, said Grazier. "Additionally, with a CC2530-enabled microSD card, after-market devices can connect to ZigBee lighting delivering another path for manufacturers and consumers to embrace ZigBee-enabled LED lighting."
Atmel IC and kit
Even before the TI demonstration, Atmel announced that it has achieved Golden Unit status with its ATmega128RFA1 wireless MCU. "Atmel continues to deliver leading-edge, innovative ZigBee Certified devices for the latest standards," said Ryan Maley, vice president of strategy at the ZigBee Alliance. "We are excited to work with companies such as Atmel and help them deliver products that will enable a new and efficient lighting experience using ZigBee."
Atmel also announced that the $479 RF4CE-EK evaluation now includes a port of a ZigBee Light Link protocol stack. The RF4CE flavor of ZigBee has been targeted at wireless applications such as consumer TV remote controls. But the same MCU with which Atmel targets RF4CE applications can also serve in SSL products with the new stack and the evaluation kit will accelerate the product design cycle.
ZigBee Light Link is a standard that was designed specifically for low-end residential LED-based lighting systems. The technology enables simple wireless links between a switch and a light. It can optionally work with dedicated controllers and can support 255 devices on the network. More complex systems can use the ZigBee Building- and Home-Automation Standards.