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Today (January 25st, 2010), the ZigBee Alliance announced the creation of a new public application profile – “ZigBee Retail Services”.Though it will be some months yet before this profile standard will be ready for implementation by adopters in the retail industry, this announcement underscores the aggressive push by the Alliance to permeate and dominate every conceivable market application for low power, low data wireless sensor networking.

Significantly, this announcement is a direct shot at the “active” RFID market.While “passive” RFID will preserve its growing auto ID niche in retail and elsewhere, due to its cost and energy consumption advantages over any “active” technology, ZigBee is well-positioned with this new profile standard to displace vendors of active in-building tracking technologies based on Wi-Fi, UWB, and various proprietary protocols.Namely

  • ZigBee Retail Services will leverage a host of application-level functions defined in the ZigBee Cluster Library for previous profile standards, such as Smart Energy and Healthcare.

  • ZigBee scale and volume, along with power consumption and price advantages over Wi-Fi, mean that retail and supply-chain solutions based on ZigBee will have a business case advantage over rival technologies for the foreseeable future.

  • The ZigBee Alliance is a burgeoning industry organization of over 340 members globally that gives ZigBee technology an enormous market push as the Alliance expands into additional market adjacencies.

Although ZigBee does not dominate every WSN market (notably, it has struggled with industrial automation, due to that market’s need for extremely low latency and robustness), it is fast becoming the de facto WSN standard.Traditional “active” RFID vendors should draw lessons from how ZigBee has competed against Z-Wave in the home automation market.