Wireless aspirations

The best thing that’s happened in recent times for widespread home automation adoption is Z-Wave and ZigBee.

The worst thing that’s happened in recent times for widespread customer satisfaction with home automation is Z-Wave and ZigBee.

Quote me on either…


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Were you on your high school debate team? :smirk:

I think what you’re saying is that both technologies are far from perfect, but fundamentally are facilitators of consumer DIY smart homes.

You’ll get no argument from me if you agree with the previous paragraph.

At issue is what the industry should do about it:

  1. DIY is inherently valuable, so can’t throw out tech which works reasonably well in this regard. Both are self-healing networks, relatively simple join and configuration protocols, etc… But, yes, these could be further simplified and/or enhanced with remote diagnostics for SmartThings tech support, “smarter” healing, graphic tools that help consumers understand their networks and interference and more. But benefit vs cost is unclear.

  2. Both ZigBee and Z-Wave have substantially enhanced their architectures.

  3. There is competition, but nothing is clearly superior (or even if something is, nothing has taken hold): BLE, Bluetooth Mesh, HomeKit, WiFi IP, IPv6wloPAN (sp?), Thread, various old and new powerline protocols…

This is the common situation in any industry, right? We have “old” standards that work, but need to be better. So while the old standards try to evolve (usually hampered by their legacy foundation and insistence on backwards compatibility), the new protocols are driven by profit motivations, regardless of the apparent altruistic consortiums formed to make them open standards - or, conversely, one of the proposed standards is vastly superior but proprietary and patent protected and only available for extremely high licensing costs - justifiable because of superiority, but still, suicidal.

I can’t count the number of folks (technology experts and regular consumers) who religiously believe that protocol X is best and should and will knock everything else out of the market. The problem? The domain of X is every protocol I mentioned and more.


The best thing that has happened with Z-Wave and ZigBee was making them DYI capable. For the longest time ZigBee was only for professional or prosumers that had access to the equipment to setup the network. Now with adding, removal, and network repair most of the issues has gone away. But we have to live with the physical laws of these networks, number of devices, hops, latency, security, etc. Most homes usually would not exceed the limits of these settings but I do see in the IOT of the future these protocols will have to be extended.

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I believe Charles Dickens said it best.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .

Actually I can think of one guy that said it even better.

I’m still not sure why monkey home automation never caught on…

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