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Eazix prepares ZigBee line-up

Posted: 14 Jun 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless? bluetooth? zigbee modules? wpan?

Fueled by the growth of industrial, consumer and home automation applications, the demand for wireless connectivity is increasing at a tremendous rate. However, present Bluetooth and Wi-Fi offerings are still not cheap enough for the average consumer, and are a bit too "over qualified" for simple applications.

This is what Philippine-based Eazix Inc., the design service and ODM arm of Integrated Microelectronics Inc., is addressing as it prepares to launch its ZigBee modules for automation and remote control applications in Q4 this year. "There's a general market for low-cost, short-range wireless radio," said Luke Mendoza, head of Eazix's system and software development. "Whether it's ZigBee or some other technology is still a question."

However, Mendoza stressed the importance of having standards. "We're banking on a standards-based technology like ZigBee because you cannot have a certain level of proliferation if each device cannot talk to each other."

Based on the IEEE 802.15.4 low data rate wireless personal area network (WPAN) standard, ZigBee features data transfer rates between 20Kbps and 250Kbps, within a nominal radius of 10m. It is eyeing the market left untapped by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi products because of their higher power consumption and costs.

Kirsten West from West Technology Research Solutions LLC estimates that by 2006, annual shipments for ZigBee chipsets into the home automation segment alone is expected to exceed 46 million units. Research firm In-Stat/MDR is also bullish about 802.15.4/ZigBee nodes/chipsets, predicting annual shipments in 2008 to be more than 160 million units.

Low-cost wireless data terminal

Eazix's response to the ZigBee market is the Panache low data rate terminal system - a wireless e-mailing terminal based on short-range technology. The system takes advantage of low data rate, low power consumption and wireless medium to keep overall system cost at a minimum. According to the company, the product supports fast and easy development of customized applications using standard programming languages and common databases. Target applications include entertainment, industrial, home, school and government use.

Although optimistic on its ZigBee business, Eazix is still paying attention to its other wireless solution offerings. Aside from ZigBee, it also offers products for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Its Bluetooth products include EZBTM02, a single-chip module that features a small form factor and low power consumption. Targeted at OEMs, the product is Bluetooth v1-compliant, supports multiple interface standards and is flash upgradable.

Manu Mercandelli, head of business development and marketing, said, "Most of the demand is on Wi-Fi. It's really the hot technology right now."

- Margarette Teodosio

Electronic Engineering Times- Asia

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