Organizations Around the Globe Use XBee Zigbee Networks to Solve Problems and Change Lives

By Matt Ahart of Digi International.

Zigbee networks are all around the world – even space! Whether it’s providing a way to deliver reliable electricity or helping reduce the spread of infection within hospitals, the applications of Zigbee technology are nearly endless.

Here are a few interesting Zigbee applications happening today.

Devergy Brings Solar Power and Reliable Electricity to Thousands

Devergy_ZBDevergy works with local communities to install micro-solar grids in remote villages of Tanzania and Ghana. The solar grids are a cost-effective alternative to traditional power grids as they don’t require the massive effort of installing new infrastructure. In the past, the villages relied on kerosene and batteries for energy, which is a costly and inefficient solution. Devergy’s solar powered grids give residents a reliable and more affordable source of electricity.

Devergy uses Zigbee technology for the communication network in the grids. Hundreds of nodes are connected with XBee Zigbee modules. Within each smart meter is an XBee Zigbee Module and using Digi’s ConnectPort X4, the network is connected to the Internet over a cellular network.

The system utilizes a pre-paid pay-per-use approach. To receive electricity, customers simply top up their credit by using a mobile commerce platform like Vodacom M-Pesa. This is just like the system you would use to top-up a pre-paid mobile phone or public transit pass.

Since 2012, Devergy has successfully connected more than 800 customers to reliable, clean and safe electricity. In addition to Tanzania, the Devergy grids are also licensed to third parties in Ghana, where they power 3 villages.

Check out their website to learn more and see what’s next for Devergy.

Wireless Networks in Space

XBee_ZBIn California, NASA scientists are using Zigbee networks to collect sensor information to test a parachute-like device called an exo-brake. Exo-brakes are used on space crafts to safely land delicate instruments on a planet — like Mars where the atmosphere is much thinner compared to Earth. The experiment will collect data for six different acceleration parameters as well as temperature and air pressure.

Due to the high cost associated with launching a rocket, the team must be extremely conservative when implementing new technology. So, the engineers went with off-the-shelf components to build the network including XBee Zigbee modules, Arduino microcontrollers, and Sparkfun’s XBee adapter shields. Once the network performs multiple successful trials, the team will incorporate XBee into more and more vital missions. The launch of the Zigbee equipped rocket is scheduled for May 2015, so check in with Digi Blog for updates!

Clean Hands Safe Hands

Clean Hands Safe Hands (CHSH) wireless system created to help hospitals monitor and increase hand hygiene compliance. The Bluetooth-enabled hand sanitizer monitoring system alerts caregivers when they forget to sanitize their hands.

With over 50 million medical procedures carried out per year in the US, hospitals are at a high risk of spreading diseases and infections. In 2011 there were 721,800 hospital-acquired infections. CHSH recognized this problem and developed a wireless system to help chip away at the staggering number of hospital-acquired infections.

In collaboration with hospitals like Emory Healthcare and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, CEO Chris Hermann, PhD and the CHSH team developed technology that allows hospitals to monitor staffs’ sanitizing habits as they enter patients’ rooms. Each employee badge reel communicates to the CHSH sensors via Bluetooth.

In order to record, remind and report on hand hygiene throughout the hospital, the team needed to find an easy way to collect and store data in the cloud. Within each of the alcohol or soap dispenser stations sits an XBee Zigbee module. The Zigbee mesh network connects all dispensers throughout the hospital and sensor information is sent to a single XBee Gateway, which connects the Zigbee network to the Digi Device Cloud.CHSH_ZB

By internet-enabling their Zigbee networks, CHSH is able to collect usage data and generate reports and monitor the health of the network from anywhere. The first CHSH deployment is being rolled out currently in two hospitals in the Atlanta area.

Share Your Story

In this post, we’ve only covered three Zigbee applications, but if you have your own unique story you’d like to share we want to know! Share with us on Twitter at @XBeeWireless and @ZigbeeAlliance!

About the Author

Matt Ahart has worked at Digi International for three years helping foster the growing community of XBee makers.

Digi International is the M2M solutions expert, combining products and services as end-to-end solutions to drive business efficiencies. Digi provides the industry’s broadest range of wireless products, a cloud platform for device management, and development services to help customers get to market fast with wireless devices and applications. To learn more visit. www.digi.com/.