Towards a Home Automation Standard: Z-Wave Adds Chip Vendor

Adding Mitsumi as chip vendor, Z-Wave sheds monopoly by Sigma Designs; adopts model more like ZigBee with multiple vendors for home automation technology.

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Z-wave developers now have a choice of chipset vendors: Z-Wave owner Sigma Designs or Japan’s Mitsumi.

By Julie Jacobson
May 24, 2011
Home automation product developers now have a second source for buying their Z-Wave RF components: Japan’s Mitsumi Electric Co., which calls Z-Wave a "hoped-for wireless communications technology for HAN (home area network)."

Previously, manufacturers had no choice. They could only buy their Z-Wave wireless technology from Sigma Designs (NASDAQ: SIGM), the company that now owns Z-Wave creator Zensys.

Sigma’s lock on Z-Wave chipsets has inhibited Z-Wave’s adoption among major international brands that don’t want to be beholden to a single source. They want competition among vendors and assurances that they can swap providers if something goes awry with one of them.

In other words, they want a model more like ZigBee’s, a rival RF control technology available from multiple vendors including Atmel, Digi, Ember and Freescale. [Update: TI, Jennic and others also make ZigBee chips; Digi makes ZigBee boards with silicon provided by Ember.]

As Sigma notes in its press release:

As a second source, Mitsumi will independently produce and deliver the popular Z-Wave modules, which will make it easier for large multi-international companies and government businesses that require a second source, to adopt the technology; in-turn, this will lead to market growth, as well as adoption by other standards organizations.

Z-Wave has claimed all along that having a single chipset provider would ensure the quality and interoperability of Z-Wave devices … which is not necessarily the case.

What it has done is ensure that Sigma maintains a monopoly on Z-Wave components – a good business move in the short term but not necessarily in the long term, when a worldwide standard for home automation and energy management is at stake … which it is.

iControl, developer of a Z-Wave-centric cloud-based home control solution employed by ADT Pulse and others, understands the stakes all too well.

The company acquired its ZigBee-centric rival uControl in part because cable companies generally embrace ZigBee over Z-Wave.

“Their rationale is that it’s an open standard,” iControl founder Reza Raji told CE Pro last year.

Indeed, Comcast/Xfinity appears to have adopted the uControl ZigBee solution for its remote home monitoring and management system.

Read Z-Wave/Mitsumi press release.

Press Release


Sigma Designs Licenses Mitsumi as Second Source for Z-Wave Technology
As a Second Source, Mitsumi Will Produce Z-Wave Module for the Home Control Market, Solidifying Z-Wave's Market Leadership

MILPITAS, CA-- Sigma Designs (NASDAQ: SIGM), the leader in connected media platforms, and Mitsumi are pleased to announce that Mitsumi is now a licensed second source for Z-Wave® wireless RF technology, a Sigma Designs technology. As a second source, Mitsumi will independently produce and deliver the popular Z-Wave modules; which will make it easier for large multi-international companies and government businesses that require a second source, to adopt the technology; in-turn, this will lead to market growth, as well as adoption by other standards organizations.

"We welcome Mitsumi as a second source for our Z-Wave product line," stated Sigma Designs CEO Thinh Tran. "With Mitsumi, we are able to draw upon a wealth of experience, technology and ideas that it possesses as a general electronics component manufacturer. With Mitsumi as a certified second source, we can extend the global acceptance of Z-Wave devices, while continuing the assurance of 100 percent interoperability in the market for all Z-Wave devices."

As the de facto standard for home area networks, Sigma Designs' Z-Wave is the first technology to bring affordable, reliable and easy-to-use wireless control to every aspect of daily life, including home monitoring and security, home control, entertainment control, healthcare, and energy management. Z-Wave is an award-winning, proven and interoperable wireless mesh networking technology that allows a wide array of devices in and around the home to communicate including lighting, appliances, HVAC, entertainment centers and security systems.

"We are pleased to be able to offer modules based upon Sigma's Z-Wave technology," says Fujio Furukawa, Vice President at Network Devices Business HQ of Mitsumi. "The market for Z-Wave is booming and we want to capitalize on Z-Wave's global potential. Further, we are very excited to drive Z-Wave further in the Japanese market where the interest in Z-Wave technology has great potential for energy reduction applications."

About Z-Wave
During recent months the global range of home control devices equipped with the Z-Wave wireless standard has increased to approximately 450 products offered by more than 170 manufacturers around the world. The creation of interconnected smart metering products, in particular, continues to be promoted by members of the Z-Wave Alliance, with the aim of providing further environmentally friendly energy management systems for domestic households. For more information on Z-Wave, please go to http://www.z-wave.com.

About Mitsumi Electric Co., Ltd.
Mitsumi is a global company that was founded in 1954 and is headquartered in Tama, Japan. Since its inception Mitsumi has been committed to the innovative development and manufacturing of a wide array of components that are used in electronic devices manufactured by the premier names in automotive, consumer, and industrial electronics. As it navigates through the future, Mitsumi is dedicated to the continual advancement of technologies centered around radio frequency, electro-mechanical devices, and micro manufacturing. For more information about Mitsumi, please visit http://www.mitsumi.co.jp/index_e.html

About Sigma Designs, Inc.
Sigma Designs, Inc. (NASDAQ: SIGM) is a world leader in connected media platforms. The company designs and builds the essential semiconductor technologies that serve as the foundation for the world's leading IPTV set-top boxes, connected media players, residential gateways, home control systems and more. For more information about Sigma Designs, please visit http://www.sigmadesigns.com.

Sigma Designs, and the Sigma Designs logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Sigma Designs, Inc. and its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks mentioned herein are believed to be trademarks of their respective owners.


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