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Bridget's Suite

Advanced Technology and the Waggle Dance

“Zigbee” is one of the technologies that Telkonet takes full advantage of.
Zigbee has a fun backstory that needs to be shared.

If you’ve ever tuned in to PBS Nature or the Discovery Channel, you may have gotten an uncomfortably close-up view of the honey bee. I don’t know about you, but personality I prefer to keep a safe distance from flying insects with stingers.

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate bees, because I do. In fact, I even planted some bee balm and milkweed in my yard…the FAR end of my yard.

Eight years ago when I came to Telkonet, I was reminded of something I had heard about honey bees. When honeybees find a rich source of pollen or nectar, they communicate to the other bees in the hive the location of the food source. They communicate by performing a dance that uses a zig-zag motion. It’s called the waggle dance. So, instead of flying all the way back to the hive to communicate, they perform this dance for other bees who are in close proximity. Those bees then communicate with other bees and so on, until finally all of the bees in the hive are made aware of the food source. Dance party with food!

In doing so, they share information among the hive members, much like Zigbee devices share information within the network. The name “Zigbee” refers to the zig-zag dance of the honey bees.

ZigBee devices are low-powered and they can communicate data over long distances by transmitting data to intermediate devices to reach more distant ones. They call it “hopping” from device to device. Low power is actually a very good thing in the right circumstances. It extends battery life, without sacrificing performance. Distances typically range from 10 to 1,600 meters (30 to 5,300 feet), depending on power output and environmental conditions, like other buildings, interior wall and ceiling/ floor types, and geographic topology. When Zigbee “end devices” are not in use, they rest, meaning they do not expend energy. (“End devices” pass long their own data but do not forward data from other devices.)

Zigbee is such a ubiquitous technology that integration among manufacturers is prolific. Examples include devices from Telkonet, Axxess, Nomadix’ Angie, Saflok, Salto, VingCard. In fact, we’ve got an entire catalog of companies we integrate with.

A Zigbee mesh network is “self-healing”. This means that if one device in the mesh network fails, other devices will step in so network communication continues.

Zigbee does not interfere with WiFi. ZigBee is based on the IEE 802.15 standard. ZigBee and Wi Fi share the same 2.4 GHz band. ZigBee channels can squeeze in between the large Wi-Fi channels without interference.

The staff at Telkonet are Zigbee pros. That said, Telkonet devices also take advantage of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In fact, our cutting-edge Touch Combo thermostat offers a combination of all three: Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Cool technology!

Get in touch with our experts to learn more about how we can incorporate these technologies into your property, to maintain occupant comfort, building health, and energy savings. or (888) 703 9398