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Zigbee PRO 2023: A Look at its New Enhancements for the Internet of Things
[April 26, 2023]

Zigbee PRO 2023: A Look at its New Enhancements for the Internet of Things

TMCnet News

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSI) - comprised of representatives from the likes of Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Google, LG Electronics (News - Alert), Samsung Electronics, Silicon Labs, Texas Instruments and others - is an association dedicated to the future of IoT; via the creation, maintenance, and promotion of open global IoT standards, the goal is for more products to transform how people work, play, and live.

This month, the CSI (News - Alert) announced the official release of the Zigbee PRO 2023, a.k.a. part of the Zigbee protocol stack. This latest revision of the Zigbee protocol introduces several enhancements and new features enable mesh networks to utilize a universal language that allows smart objects to work together more effectively.

Zigbee PRO 2023 builds on the existing secure-by-design architecture by incorporating several security enhancements to address evolving market demands. Zigbee PRO 2023:

  • Simplifies the user experience and extends the supported bands beyond the 2.4 GHz range.
  • Enables Zigbee Direct, which streamlines device onboarding and control using Bluetooth Low Energy (a technology found in numerous voice assistant-led products and mobile devices).
  • Advances the standardization of hub-centric operations with the initial phase of 'Works with All Hubs,' a feature that bolsters network resiliency in hub-centric networks by helping devices identify the most suitable parent for securely joining and rejoining the network.
  • Adds the support for sub-gigahertz frequencies in Europe (800 MHz) and North America (900 MHz) and enhances signal strength and range, accommodating even more use cases.

Tobin Richardson (News - Alert), President and CEO of the Connectivity Standards Alliance, stated, 'After two decades, Zigbee continues to empower consumer and industrial use cases, enabling richer and more reliable connectivity for utilities, homes, industry, and buildings. With PRO 2023's new features and security enhancements, our hundreds of members continue to evolve and increase Zigbee's relevance and value to manufacturers, their customers, and consumers.'

Zigbee PRO 2023 release also includes a whole suite of feature enhancements and new security mechanisms designed to safeguard the network during the onboarding and operation of devices, addressing contemporary security threats. Specific new security features encompass Dynamic Link Key, Device Interview, and Trust Center Swap-Out.

  • The Dynamic Link Key, based on Public/Private key pairing and advanced security curves, provides further protection against network attacks.
  • Device Interview technology enables users to query and filter devices before allowing them onto a network based on ecosystem requirements.
  • The Trust Center Swap-Out feature permits the replacement of the 'Trust Center' - which can be a gateway, hub, smart speaker, or even commercial electric meters - for a network without necessitating the recommissioning of all devices.

Asad Haque, Chair of the Security Advisory Group for the Connectivity Standards Alliance, commented, 'Security always needs to evolve as new exploits and attacks are introduced. With the PRO 2023 release, Zigbee now includes several critical security features to address modern-day threats. These enhancements utilize industry-standard cryptographic algorithms and mutual authentication to protect network security during commissioning and subsequent operation. It is great to see well-established standards like Zigbee continue to adopt the latest security technology available to deliver peace of mind to consumers.'

Zigbee PRO 2023-compliant devices with an adequate level of security can now coexist on the same network as smart energy devices, facilitating the exchange of crucial information to further enhance control and use of energy and devices. Zigbee-certified products can connect and communicate using a shared IoT language, and hundreds of millions of Zigbee products have already been implemented in smart homes and buildings worldwide. More than 3,900 Zigbee products have been certified, with more than a billion chipsets sold globally.

Edited by Alex Passett

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