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ZigBee is a specification for a suite of high-level communication protocols used to create personal area networks built from small, low-power digital radios. ZigBee is based on an IEEE 802.15.4 standard. Though its low power consumption limits transmission distances to 10–100 meters line-of-sight, depending on power output and environmental characteristics, ZigBee devices can transmit data over long distances by passing data through a mesh network of intermediate devices to reach more distant ones. ZigBee is typically used in low data rate applications that require long battery life and secure networking (ZigBee networks are secured by 128 bit symmetric encryption keys.) ZigBee has a defined rate of 250 kbit/s, best suited for intermittent data transmissions from a sensor or input device. Applications include wireless light switches, electrical meters with in-home-displays, traffic management systems, and other consumer and industrial equipment that requires short-range low-rate wireless data transfer. The technology defined by the ZigBee specification is intended to be simpler and less expensive than other wireless personal area networks (WPANs), such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
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