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Dotdot 1.0 Enables Zigbee and Thread IP to Speak the Same Language

The Zigbee Alliance predicts the release of its new specification will unleash creativity in developers since it enables Zigbee-based home-automation and smart-lighting products to operate with IP networks, while Wi-Fi is the next potential interoperability target.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 08, 2019

Internet of Things (IoT) interoperability received a recent boost with the release of a new specification created in a collaboration between the Zigbee Alliance and the Thread Group, known as Dotdot 1.0. This application layer for Zigbee-based products can now run over the Thread Mesh network.

For developers, the result is the ability to more easily create solutions using the Zigbee standard, with an interoperability language that will automatically speak to systems based on Internet Protocol (IP) v6. With the new specification, the Zigbee Alliance is announcing its Dotdot over Thread certification program for product developers, opening in the first quarter of this year, to validate technologies before they are commercialized.

The Zigbee Alliance's Victor Berrios
Several companies are already developing home-automation products and smart lighting systems that take advantage of the interoperability between the Zigbee application layer and Thread's Internet Protocol. Thread is a low-power mesh-networking technology, based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, that brings IP connectivity to wireless IoT devices. It traditionally competes with other IoT protocols, including Zigbee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 and Z-Wave.

Zigbee, which is also an IEEE 802.15.4-based protocol, is used for home-automation devices, medical devices and smart lighting. It was standardized in 2004 to provide intermittent data transmissions from and to sensors. Since its revision in 2006, Zigbee has had an application layer that enables products to interoperate over its mesh network. However, says Victor Berrios, the Zigbee Alliance's VP of technology, "A couple of years ago, the board made the decision that we wanted to unlock that value that was nascent in our application layer."

The new agreement makes all Zigbee and Thread Mesh devices compatible via the application layer. This will be the first of many such interoperability specifications, Berrios says, adding, "We have completed the work now so that the Zigbee application layer runs over the Thread network. The first time is always the hardest. It moves us now down the path that we can very quickly do the work to have it operating on other networks."

The Alliance expects to open up the new specification to Zigbee developers within a few months. Berrios likens the use of Zigbee with other 802.15.4 devices to the installation of a wireless printer. When a printer is installed, he explains, both the printer and the computer can recognize each other via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. In order for them to operate together, however, proprietary software and drivers must be installed.

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