Advanced metering driving 802.15.4 and ZigBee growth


San Diego, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 26, 2008 – Driven by energy regulations advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is currently the largest and fastest growing wireless sensor networking (WSN) 802.15.4/ZigBee market and by 2012 is projected to make up 16.2 percent of all 802.15.4/ZigBee units shipped worldwide.

According to a new study from emerging wireless research organization ON World Inc., adoption for 802.15.4 and ZigBee chipsets is accelerating in several industries, with 7 million units sold worldwide last year, up 1,400 percent from 2004, and growth projected to 140 million units by 2012, the majority for WSNs.

Other major growth areas include industrial, commercial and residential building solutions, and by 2012, together with AMI, WSN solutions in these markets will make up 50 percent of the total 802.15.4/ZigBee units shipped worldwide, with a value – including wireless sensors, repeaters, gateways and middleware software – of US$14 billion.

In the commercial building market three segments present unique opportunities for 802.15.4/ZigBee solutions. The traditional market comprises solutions that extend building control systems in medium to large sized properties, the vertical landscape is targeting solutions at specific industries such as hospitality, and there are many emerging solution areas such as temperature monitoring to reduce the costs associated with meeting health and hygiene regulations, condition monitoring of HVAC equipment, and structural monitoring.

For residential automation and control ZigBee is the preferred protocol by professional installers, with 41 percent of recently surveyed professional installers having installed a ZigBee system. However, ZigBee’s biggest threat is in the retail channel where Zensys (Z-Wave) has the largest number of certified products for vendor interoperability today.

In the industrial market despite high demand for industrial wireless sensing and control solutions, 802.15.4 and ZigBee face significant competition from competing alternatives such as WiFi and proprietary radios. However, industrial WSN standards are based on 802.15.4 radios with frequency hopping and several companies are also developing ZigBee products for industrial solutions.

In the future, however, niche markets are predicted by ON World to be one of the fastest growing 802.15.4/ZigBee segments, increasing by a 97.8 percent compound annual growth rate by 2012. Growing niche markets include traffic and parking management, streetlight monitoring, agriculture, farming, medical, public safety, and retail asset management.

While the popularity of WSNs in the markets above has driven most of the interest in 802.15.4 and ZigBee, applications for low data rate wireless networking such as consumer electronics, asset tracking, real-time location systems, and cable replacements made up almost half of the units in 2007. Some of these solutions, such as real-time location systems, require mesh networking and need standards-based solutions for interoperability, but many products in this segment are extremely price sensitive and do not require complex mesh networking.

ON World’s study was based on more than 800 interviews with end users, industry experts, vendors and suppliers.