While many other wireless communication technologies are trending towards more intricate protocols, complicated modulation schemes, and higher data rates, ZigBee and IEEE 802.15.4
I’m often asked about how ZigBee networks are able to provide reliable communications when they operate in the 2.4GHz ISM band; the band of 1000 interferers. It’s quite simple, the IEEE 802.15.4 modulation scheme was designed to have strong correlation properties with its own signals and extremely low correlation properties with signals from potential interferers. In layman’s terms, only the desired signals are received, all other signals are diminished such that they appear to be absent. I have been involved in thousands of ZigBee network installations and have never experienced a problem with interference from WiFi, Bluetooth, microwave ovens, telemetry units, paging systems, or other RF emitters. The only time I’ve had to troubleshoot a communication link is when I’d forgotten to plug in a device!
ZigBee Mesh Network Are The Ideal Choice for Hospital RTLSRegardless of the employed technology, the name of the game for driving clinical and financial success with RTLS in hospitals is two fold: 1) Providing enterprise-wide coverage and 2) achieving enterprise room-level accuracy.
Enterprise-wide coverage is a rather obvious requirement, but many technologies, including those that you would think are pervasive, like WiFi, are not. Have you ever tried to use WiFi in a hospital basement? If not, try it and keep your fingers crossed!
Other technologies like infrared and ultrasound are well suited for small, confined areas. Because their coverage is limited to near-line-of-sight operation, extremely dense infrastructure is required. In addition, use cases that disrupt line-of-site communications will render these technologies useless. We often find assets in desk drawers, mop closets and above ceiling tiles. Yes, above ceiling tiles! Large open spaces like foyers, biomedical departments, nursing stations and hallways are even less conducive for use of these technologies. Any of these situations create holes in achieving enterprise-wide coverage.
ZigBee on the other hand can be deployed wherever there’s an electrical outlet. Since ZigBee ultilizes radio frequency, signals can penetrate walls, doors, floors and other materials to provide ubiquitous enterprise coverage. Furthermore, ZigBee mesh network devices work together like neurons in the human body to collectively detect, process, transcieve and act on location beacons. This swarm intelligence approach to location estimation produces a room-level accuracy that traditional triangulation techniques fall short of achieving.
Awarepoint’s ZigBee-Based Real-time Location SystemYou might want to view Awarepoint’s recent PowerPoint presentation to see how ZigBee-based RTLS solutions
Synopsis of OnWorld Market Dynamics ReportYou may also be interested in ZigBee Crosses the Chasm!
There’s no doubt that ZigBee is well on its way to being as pervasive as cellular telephony; the question is, “Will you know when you’re using it?” It may be in your house or your remote control already! To learn more about the OnWorld study and the success of ZigBee technology, check out the report table of contents and purchase options here.
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~ Matt Perkins