Zigbee RF4CE

Putting control of your smart home in the palm of your hand.

The Zigbee RF4CE specification offers an immediate, low-cost, easy-to-implement networking solution for control products based on Zigbee Remote Control and  Zigbee Input Device. The Zigbee RF4CE specification is designed to provide low-power, low-latency control for a wide range of products including home entertainment devices, garage door openers, keyless entry systems and many more.

Technical Summary

The Zigbee RF4CE specification defines a remote control (RC) network that defines a simple, robust and low-cost communication network allowing wireless connectivity in applications for consumer electronic (CE) devices. The Zigbee RF4CE specification enhances the IEEE 802.15.4 standard by providing a simple networking layer and standard application layer that can be used to create a multi-vendor interoperable solution for use within the home.

Network Topology

Frequently Asked Questions

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Characteristics of Zigbee RF4CE include:

  • Operation in the 2.4GHz frequency band according to IEEE 802.15.4
  • Frequency agile solution operating over three channels
  • Incorporates power saving mechanisms for all device classes
  • Discovery mechanism with full application confirmation
  • Pairing mechanism with full application confirmation
  • Multiple star topology with inter-personal area network (PAN) communication
  • Various transmission options including broadcast
  • Security key generation mechanism
  • Utilizes the industry standard AES-128 security scheme
  • Specifies a simple remote control profile for consumer electronics products
  • Support Alliance developed standards or manufacturer specific profiles

ZigBee RF4CE Network Topology The Zigbee RF4CE network is composed of two types of device: a target node and a controller node. A target node has full PAN coordinator capabilities and can start a network in its own right. A controller node can join networks started by target nodes by pairing with the target. Multiple remote controls (RC) PANs form an RC network and nodes in the network can communicate between RC PANs.In order to communicate with a target node, a controller node first switches to the channel and assumes the PAN identifier of the destination RC PAN. It then uses the network address, allocated through the pairing procedure, to identify itself on the RC PAN and thus communicate with the desired target node.This graphic illustrates an example Zigbee RF4CE topology that includes three target nodes: a TV, a DVD player and a Set-Top Box (STB) with each target node creates its own RC PAN. There’s also an optional gateway providing access to the Internet to expand control options. The TV, DVD and STB also have dedicated RCs that are paired to each appropriate target node. A multifunction RC, capable of controlling all three target nodes itself, is added to the network by successively pairing to the desired target nodes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Zigbee RF4CE?
The Zigbee RF4CE specification provides multi-vendor interoperable home entertainment solution for consumer electronics featuring a simple, robust and low-cost communication network for two-way wireless connectivity.

Why use Zigbee RF4CE?
Zigbee RF4CE was specifically designed for applications requiring simple device-to-device control communication that do not need the full-featured mesh networking capabilities offered by Zigbee. Zigbee RF4CE offers lower memory size requirements and as such enable lower cost implementations. The simple device-to-device topology provides easy development and testing, resulting in faster time to market.

Why do we need RF remotes?
RF remotes provide new levels of interactivity and convenience for today’s digital home when compared to IR remotes. RF remotes overcome the problems seen with IR remotes today that are interfered with by large screen TVs as well as removing the line-of-sight and field-of-vision limitations. As more devices add Internet connectivity and other features, the need for two-way communication grows. RF remotes are faster, more reliable and provide more freedom to operate devices from greater distances.

Does the market need a standard for RF remote controls?
There are currently many proprietary low-cost 2.4GHz solutions. Offering a standards-based solution, meeting the aggressive cost targets for a myriad of RF consumer applications, will accelerate the transition of IR to RF and from proprietary RF to standardized RF, and has been an ongoing Alliance objective. Standardizing RF control allows for multiple vendors products to remain interoperable which consumers expect and demand. Zigbee RF4CE meets these targets and provides a path toward communication with other Zigbee solutions.

How does Zigbee RF4CE prevent interference from other radio-based technologies, like Wi-Fi?
Zigbee RF4CE incorporates superb interference protection through its method of frequency agility that rapidly moves the Zigbee RF4CE network to an interference free channel when interference from WiFi or another source is detected. This interference mitigation technology allows Zigbee RF4CE to select one of three channels in the 2.4GHz band, including Channel 25 (which is located above the highest possible Wi-Fi channel.) For more information see the “Zigbee Wi-Fi Coexistence” white paper on the Zigbee White Papers page.

But are there interference problems with Bluetooth signals?
That’s not likely because Bluetooth is a frequency hopping technology which occasionally might collide with Zigbee RF4CE packets. Zigbee RF4CE sends very few bits infrequently between Zigbee RF4CE devices. In the very unlikely case of a collision with Bluetooth, the Zigbee RF4CE information packet will be resent quickly without the user noticing a delay. For more information see the “Zigbee and Wireless Radio Frequency Coexistence” white paper on the Zigbee White Papers page.

Are there uses for Zigbee RF4CE beyond remote controls?
Yes, Zigbee RF4CE is applicable for a variety of control devices. The Zigbee RF4CE community is currently developing new ways to use this specification.

How do consumers benefit?
It eliminates the limitations of today’s IR capabilities. RF allows for fast, reliable and non line-of-sight two-way communication between devices, bringing enhanced user interfaces, better interaction and new control techniques. Plus, Zigbee RF4CE-based products are more energy efficient, reducing the number of batteries used during a product’s lifetime and reducing battery waste.

Is this limited to entertainment system remote controls?
Zigbee RF4CE will be the engine that powers many different devices that only requires simple device-to-device technology. Entertainment devices, lighting, fan control, garage door openers, keyless entry systems are just a few possible uses for Zigbee RF4CE.

What will be the battery life of a remote control using Zigbee RF4CE, when compared to an IR remote control?
Zigbee RF4CE provides significantly better battery life over an equivalent IR remote control product.

Can Zigbee RF4CE remote controls accidentally operate your neighbor’s equipment?
Since each remote control is uniquely paired with the devices it controls, this is virtually impossible.

When can consumers expect to buy products featuring this technology?
Products using Zigbee RF4CE are available in the market today.

Will Zigbee RF4CE interoperate with other Zigbee devices?
Zigbee and Zigbee RF4CE devices share a common communication foundation and can easily be bridged for interoperability.

Will devices running on Zigbee RF4CE interoperate?
The Zigbee RF4CE supports interoperability via standards such as Zigbee Remote Control or Zigbee Input Device.

Will the Zigbee RF4CE specification send video signals?
Zigbee RF4CE was not designed to support video signals. In fact, the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, which all Zigbee specifications are based upon, limits the over-the-air data rate to a very small 250 Kilobytes per second and is not large enough to send video signals. Zigbee was designed to support simple control and monitoring applications.

What are the uses for Zigbee RF4CE?
Zigbee RF4CE is designed for a wide range of products, including home entertainment devices, lighting, fan control, garage door openers, keyless entry systems and many more.

Can my organization participate in the development of Zigbee RF4CE?
Work activity is open to all Zigbee Promoter and Participant members. If you wish to participate, join the Alliance.

Is the specification available to the public?
The Zigbee RF4CE specification and Zigbee Remote Control standard are currently open to the public and can be downloaded below.

Is Zigbee Certified testing be offered?
All Zigbee RF4CE platforms are tested before being made available to product developers. There are now many Zigbee RF4CEF Compliant Platforms for equipment manufacturers to select from when designing a Zigbee product. A Zigbee Certified product test program for Zigbee Remote Control is now available. This program allows product manufacturers to create products compliant with the Zigbee Remote Control standard and demonstrate that their products are interoperable with products made by other manufacturers using the same standard.

Downloads & Learn More

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