Former Z-Wave Alliance Chairman Joins Rival ZigBee Alliance

Mark Walters, former chairman of Z-Wave Alliance, joins ZigBee Alliance as vice president of strategic development. But he’s no turncoat.

After four years at the helm of Z-Wave Alliance, former chairman Mark Walters has joined the rival home automation group ZigBee Alliance as vice president of strategic development.

But he’s no traitor. CE Pro, SSI‘s sister publication, has learned that Walters and the Z-Wave organization parted amicably and a search for a new Z-Wave leader is underway by the board of directors. We were unable at this time to obtain a job description for the new chairman.

With more than 35 million Z-Wave devices on the market from some 300 vendors, the home automation standard is arguably the most popular for lifestyle-related applications.

ZigBee may “dwarf” that number in total, but not necessarily for smart home applications (yet). Millions of chipsets are sold into the OEM remote-control business for the RF4CE protocol; and millions more for unutilized “smart meters.”

Walters has made a living over the past few years promoting Z-Wave at the expense of ZigBee, so the new rhetoric should be fun.

ZigBee has enjoyed some exciting developments lately. Late last year the Alliance released ZigBee 3.0, which merges all of the erstwhile disparate classes of the protocol into one interoperable standard.

More recently, ZigBee announced it would work with Thread – which delivers IPv6 over the same 802.15.4 radios that ZigBee employs – to create an applications layer on top of the networking protocols that Thread defines.

As VP strategic development for the ZigBee Alliance, Walters will “develop the current branding and standards to increase awareness and understanding of ZigBee technology,” according to a press release. “He will be strongly focused on the approaching launch of ZigBee 3.0, a release that will help reduce market fragmentation and further promote the suitability of ZigBee standards for the Internet of Things (IoT). In addition, he will craft partnerships and agreements with other organizations to increase interoperability across the IoT. This work will be especially important in the smart home market, where the ZigBee Alliance is leading consolidation processes to support an easy and meaningful consumer experience.”

In the same PR, Alliance president and CEO Tobin Richardson says, “We believe that Mark will help drive the Alliance to reduce fragmentation, increase market adoption and deliver the promise to consumers in our core mission of interoperability.”

About the Author

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Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration.

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