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CSA Launches Zigbee Direct: A New Standard for Seamless IoT Connectivity

Telink Staff

January 23, 2023


Woman using Zigbee smart home technology

Zigbee Direct melds the ubiquity of Bluetooth® LE with the convenience of Zigbee mesh networking for an IoT experience that’s second nature.

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) is proud to announce Zigbee Direct — a new IoT feature that simplifies smart device onboarding and control by combining Zigbee and Bluetooth® technologies. For almost 20 years, Zigbee mesh networking has helped developers reimagine what it means to nurture a smart home or business. However, since most platform devices like smartphones and PC don’t have a Zigbee radio, an additional hub device is required for Zigbee, which limits user experience and increases the implementation cost.

Backed by over 50 member companies, including Telink, Zigbee Direct solves this problem by forging new communication channels between Zigbee radios and ubiquitous Bluetooth® Low Energy (LE) devices. Launching on January 24th, here’s what both consumers and developers can expect from Zigbee Direct, which Telink now offers a solution. 

How Zigbee Direct Elevates the IoT Experience

Zigbee Direct diagram showing connectivity

User-friendliness, interoperability, and universality — Zigbee Direct checks all these boxes and more with node-to-node, cross-device interaction that’s reliable, fast, and easy. Zigbee Direct works with as many smart ecosystems as possible by leveraging Bluetooth LE’s Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) to transfer and receive data within a Zigbee mesh network.

To initiate a connection, a Zigbee Virtual Device (ZVD), such as a smartphone with Bluetooth features, uses GATT to establish a secured connection with a nearby Zigbee Direct Device (ZDD), like a smart light bulb or security camera. Once this tunnel is created, the ZVD can be used as a remote to control the ZDD and other Zigbee devices within the associated network.

For consumers in smart homes or IoT-integrated businesses, Zigbee Direct makes for a streamlined experience without the need for additional hardware, gateways, or hubs, saving both time and money. Developers and manufacturers can also enjoy reduced time to market with a standard that provides a robust and simple solution to common interoperability roadblocks and allows more room for creativity and innovation.

Why Zigbee Direct Matters

Zigbee Direct helps solve a major pain point: the existing lack of support for Zigbee on platform devices such as smartphones and PCs. Zigbee Direct takes one of the most widely adopted and implemented technologies — Bluetooth Low Energy — and uses it as a communication bridge between Zigbee networks and other smart ecosystems. Consumers no longer need to stick with a certain product manufacturer or ditch the devices they already have to better support their IoT systems. Nor do developers need to spend extra resources designing proprietary solutions or adapting to various proprietary APIs and interfaces.

Zigbee Direct also comes with the latest rendition of Zigbee 3.0 R23, with end-to-end application layer security supported by Elliptic Curve Cryptography and a Dynamic Link Key feature for enhanced protection and peace of mind.

Use Cases: Zigbee Direct in Action

Zigbee Direct boosts two key characteristics of IoT connectivity: onboarding and control. Using Bluetooth LE, consumers can set up or onboard devices to their existing Zigbee mesh network. Out-of-band connections are also possible — Zigbee Direct can funnel all Zigbee communications through an established Bluetooth connection to safeguard networks and keep all nodes fully functional.

Consumers can also maintain control of every single touchpoint within their IoT framework — all without a hub. Zigbee Direct transforms smartphones, tablets, and smart speakers into central devices capable of automatically recognizing and remotely controlling peripheral devices through highly secure data tunneling. It’s a straightforward and more holistic way to engage with the devices that keep households and commercial enterprises running.

Create a Buzzing IoT Ecosystem with Zigbee Direct and Telink

Simplify the IoT experience for both new and veteran users with an integrated mesh network feature that’s market-proven, legacy adjacent, and forward-thinking. What makes the Zigbee Direct possible in an economical way is the multiprotocol connectivity SoC and the capability of running two protocols concurrently. Telink offers best-in-class SoCs with multiprotocol features equipped with Zigbee Direct and Bluetooth assets to speed up product developers’ design and development process and facilitate an IoT environment that feels familiar to consumers. With hardware and software components that have already passed rigorous Zigbee certification testing, refining the IoT experience has never been easier.

Smart spaces are constantly evolving — keep up with Telink’s inventive semiconductor solutions.

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