The Zigbee Alliance has announced that it has a new board member – and it's one of the biggest players in the smart home.
Amazon now takes its seat on the Board of Directors, joining a wide range of manufacturers all looking to drive Zigbee forward as the protocol of choice for the connected home.
What is Zigbee? It's a wireless standard that allows devices to talk to each other. It's great for low power applications and it's a significant player in devices light smart plugs, smart lights and heating. It's the standard that Philips Hue uses to communicate, for example, and it's one of the things that allows direct interoperability between devices from different manufacturers.
One of the biggest pieces of news that was perhaps overlooked in recent years was the addition of a Zigbee controller to the Amazon Echo Plus. That 2017 device was replaced with a new version in 2018 – while the second-gen Amazon Echo Show also has a Zigbee controller, as Amazon has expanded its own hardware offering.
What this means is that you don't need a separate hub for many devices – it can be setup and controlled directly by those Echo devices instead. For example, the Echo Plus can setup and control a Philips Hue bulb without the need for the Hue Bridge.
"Voice control with Alexa is helping remove the complexity of smart home, and there are even more ways we can help customers by ensuring their smart devices connect and work together seamlessly," said Christian Taubman, director, Alexa Smart Home at Amazon on the news.
Amazon's involvement in the direction and shaping of Zigbee moving forwards sends a strong signal that it's the standard it will be backing – and that has implications for the whole market.
It's important from the perspective of Amazon's own devices – and as it produces more smart home hardware it is likely to use Zigbee – and it's important for third-party manufacturers, from established players to start-ups.
If you want close interaction between your device and the rapidly expanding Amazon ecosystem, then Zigbee is something you'll really want to be working with.