Zigbee, a long-time smart home standard, is the technology enabling communications between Mars rover Perseverance and its Ingenuity companion drone. Zigbee is one of the major home network protocols, along with Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth that dominates home networks. While Zigbee has long been the de facto network protocol for smart lighting and smart energy meters, it now is found in over 2,500 devices.
From a marketing standpoint, the fact that communications between Perseverance and Ingenuity are being handled by Zigbee is a major victory for the company and a stellar endorsement of the tech’s reliability. Considering the harsh conditions on Mars – low pressure and temperatures that can dip to minus 130 F at night – it’s essential that communications work flawlessly.
No human being is going to be there to locate and fix any problems that develop with devices on the Red Planet’s surface (at least not yet). If Zigbee is good enough for NASA on a planet that’s 159 million miles away from Earth, it’s good enough for people’s homes.
Here on Earth, there are additional good signs for Zigbee’s prospects as more and more smart homeowners are connecting products to one another, and this is a trend that’s expected to continue. According to Interpret’s Smart Home Matrix™, 47% of smart homeowners report connecting a device to another device, other than a smartphone or tablet. The most frequently connected devices are smart light bulbs (35%) to smart speakers, followed by smart doorbells (32%) connected to interactive security systems. Like the Mars rover, Alexa Show and Echo Plus have Zigbee built-in to connect to other smart home devices. When it comes to interconnectivity among smart devices, it appears that the sky’s no longer the limit.