Smart home installations can include multiple networks -- both wired and wireless. Typically, the wireless standard used for device interconnection is either Wi-Fi or ZigBee, depending on the application.
According to the latest market study by ABI Research, ZigBee enabled device shipments will grow to almost 400 million units per annum in 2018 -- with demand being driven by the adoption of this wireless technology to enable new smart home services.
"Since 2006 we have seen steady growth in ZigBee enabled device shipments. The initial major growth engine was the smart meter market which adopted ZigBee, particularly for U.S. smart meter rollouts," said Peter Cooney, practice director at ABI Research.
While smart meters still account for a significant amount of the market, today it is home entertainment devices -- in particular pay-TV set-top boxes, which are the main driver of ZigBee market growth.
In 2012 home entertainment took over from smart meters as the largest market for ZigBee chips -- in 2013 it accounts for 45 percent of total ZigBee ICs shipped.
This growth has been led by the adoption of ZigBee among service providers, such as Comcast in the U.S. market, to enable new services such as home security and energy management to their customers.
This market alone is expected to see cumulative shipments for the next 5 years of over 500 million ZigBee chips.
Service providers have adopted ZigBee as the ultra-low power technology of choice to drive smart home services due primarily to its ultra-low power and low cost.
Initially ZigBee RF4CE was adopted for remote control applications but the longer term goal will be to offer various sensor devices to drive adoption of services such as home security systems and home automation.
ZigBee will see increasing competition from other wireless technologies, in particular Bluetooth and Wi-Fi across all of its primary markets, however ZigBee adoption will continue to grow and remain as one of the three major wireless connectivity technologies.