Opinion: Z-Wave’s Open API is ‘Truly an Incredible Step’

Longtime Z-Wave device supplier Avi Rosenthal explains the significance of Sigma Designs’ opening up portions of the Z-Wave home automation spec.

Avi Rosenthal

For years the two biggest obstacles for Z-Wave adoption by home-automation developers were: 1) The chips are only available from a single source, Z-Wave owner Sigma Designs, and 2) The protocol was considered “closed” and unavailable to the public.

With its recent decision to open up a big chunk of the Z-Wave protocol, Sigma Designs has eliminated number 2 … mostly.

As of the announcement, the interoperability layer of Z-Wave is now published into the public domain. 

This is truly an incredible step. It levels the playing field with other so-called standards in the smart-home industry, as well as allows the public to use the interoperability to develop new and exciting products. 

It also eliminates what has been seen as a major barrier to using the standard in product development. (The single-source issue is still an impediment, but that should be solved someday too.)

These announcements are moving our industry in a direction that up until now has only been discussed in theory.  

Sigma Designs is also making public the Z-Wave over I/P (Z/IP) and Z-Ware (Z-Wave middleware) products, thus allowing development of devices, hubs and gateways to more easily connect to the cloud using Z-Wave. 

These two APIs are designed for use by gateways, making communication from cloud services to the Z-Wave gateways even more transparent. Sigma Designs is also making public two implementation samples codes for the usage of these two APIs.

But wait, there’s more!

Sigma Designs is also releasing the full specification of the new, world-class Z-Wave S2 security application framework. Z-Wave’s S2 security framework has been called the industry’s most robust and comprehensive approach to smart-home security. This release allows security experts to view the inner workings of Z-Wave S2 security to peek under the hood and see if it really measures up to the hype.  If it does, it will be the first truly “hack-proof” RF technology available to the IoT industry.

Even with all of this openness, Sigma and the Z-Wave Alliance still require that you pay your dues and get your products certified before you put the Z-Wave stamp on them.

These requirements will be bad for some, but good for most. It’s bad because if you are a developer in a basement, you can’t just use the now-public information and make new “Z-Wave” products to sell on the market. But it is a good thing (a great thing, in my opinion) because it will continue to assure interoperability and standards that no other RF technology can lay claim to in the world of IoT.

As other companies talk about moving forward with connected technologies, Sigma Designs is actually doing it. These announcements are moving our industry in a direction that up until now has only been discussed in theory.  

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