Zigbee Direct FAQ
Frequently asked questions about Zigbee Direct
What is Zigbee Direct?
Zigbee Direct is a new feature that can be added to new or existing Zigbee products to allow your Bluetooth Low Energy devices (e.g., smartphone, tablet, or smart speaker) to be used for onboarding and controlling your Zigbee products directly.
What is a Zigbee Virtual Device (ZVD)?
A Zigbee Virtual Device (ZVD) is a Bluetooth Low Energy device, such as a phone or a smart speaker, with the Zigbee Direct feature performing a certain role (e.g., Trust Center, commissioner) or adopting a certain device type on a Zigbee network (e.g. End Device, Router, Coordinator, Trust Center). The software stack of a ZVD may be constituted of the ZVD application, Zigbee PRO network stack, and the client’s implementation of Zigbee Direct defined Bluetooth Low Energy services.
What is a Zigbee Direct Device (ZDD)?
A Zigbee Direct Device is a device, such as a light bulb or a hub, capable of concurrently running Zigbee (e.g., End Device, Router, Coordinator, Trust Center) and Bluetooth Low Energy stacks, implementing server-side of the Zigbee Direct defined Bluetooth Low Energy services that enable the exchange of data between certain Bluetooth-based devices (ZVDs) and a Zigbee device or network.
How does Zigbee Direct work?
Zigbee Direct enables connecting a Zigbee Virtual Device to a Zigbee Direct Device via Bluetooth. This communication channel carries the Zigbee network and application messages through the Zigbee Direct Device to the rest of the Zigbee network.
What are the main use cases for the Zigbee Direct feature?
There are a number of different use cases that center around onboarding and controlling devices in various situations, including without the use of a hub.
- Bluetooth Low Energy is quickly becoming a customary method for onboarding devices. With Zigbee Direct, ubiquitous Bluetooth Low Energy in existing smart speakers, controllers, smartphones, tablets, hubs, etc. can now be used to onboard and control Zigbee products with ease and flexibility.
- Zigbee Direct can reduce the number of additional hubs required in a home by utilizing Zigbee Direct to onboard and control new Zigbee devices onto an existing Zigbee network.
- For fully distributed Zigbee networks operating without a hub, Zigbee Direct delivers tools for onboarding and control via existing Bluetooth Low Energy products.
Why isn’t there a brand mark for Zigbee Direct and how will the end-users know this feature is available in my product?
Zigbee Direct is a new feature of the Zigbee specification and not a fully productized version of the specification. It is recommended that product manufacturers include mention of the Zigbee Direct feature on packaging and other marketing materials to let the user know of its benefits and as an additional selling point for a product. Please refer to the Zigbee Direct Branding Guide for recommendations.
Why was Zigbee Direct created?
Bluetooth Low Energy onboarding is becoming a widely accepted method for adding new devices to an IoT network. Implementing Zigbee Direct provides another option for onboarding and pairing that is easy for new as well as experienced Zigbee end users to use. It leverages the familiarity of existing Bluetooth Low Energy devices and drives higher adoption. At the same time, this new feature provides more flexibility and choice for Zigbee end users, utilizing the convenience of existing Bluetooth Low Energy connected devices to expand their device networks.
Who is Zigbee Direct feature for? Who benefits fro the future and how is it used by consumers/end users?
Ultimately, the main beneficiary of this feature is end users in both the Residential and Commercial markets because it simplifies onboarding and control of Zigbee devices.
Developers, Ecosystem Providers, and Product/Device Manufacturers also benefit from a new option for commissioning and pairing that is less onerous on the end user and opens up more opportunities for device proliferation.
New entrants to the market can focus on developing their applications and devices and not necessarily be required to build additional hardware/hubs.
Is Zigbee Direct backward compatible?
Zigbee Direct is supported on two classes of existing Zigbee networks as long as at least one Zigbee Direct Device is added to the network.
- Distributed security networks (i.e., networks without a central Trust Center or hub).
- Centralized security networks (i.e., networks with a Trust Center) that either use install codes or do not use install codes for joining devices.
Is Zigbee Direct a mandatory feature?
No, Zigbee 3.0 devices may decide to implement (part of) the Zigbee Direct specification.
Note: Starting with Zigbee PRO R23 specification onwards, Zigbee Coordinators are required to implement a minimum set of Zigbee Direct support features, such as handling Zigbee Direct-specific devices and key types. These requirements are extensions to the Zigbee stack as run on top of 802.15.4. Coordinators are NOT required to implement Bluetooth Low Energy.
Is this feature limited to a particular type of Zigbee 3.0 Network – Smart Home / Commercial?
Zigbee Direct makes no distinction in types of networks but has been designed with security in mind. Each Zigbee Direct Device will implement a Zigbee Direct control cluster, that will allow for the Zigbee Direct feature to be securely disabled if usage of BLE-based commissioning and controls is not desirable.
What Alliance members are supporting the development of this feature?
There are about 50 member companies currently on the Balloting Group for this feature.
What can I control with Zigbee Direct?
With Zigbee Direct, the user can:
- Connect to and control any Zigbee device on the mesh, including groups, for example, read device status, adjust scenes, change levels, create groups, etc., including the ability to now, use a user interface on a Bluetooth Low Energy-enabled smart device in cases where it doesn’t currently exist.
- Commission and configure Zigbee devices for operation on a Zigbee network.
Is Zigbee Direct secure?
The Zigbee Direct specification has been designed with security in mind and follows the current Zigbee security standards. Zigbee Direct uses some of the same cryptographic methods used within core R23 by way of the Dynamic Link Key feature (asymmetric cryptography).
What are the minimum requirements to use the Zigbee Direct feature?
There are no minimum Zigbee Direct requirements related to hardware. For Zigbee Direct Devices, a concurrent dual-mode 802.15.4/Bluetooth Low Energy capable SoC with sufficient memory available to accommodate the Bluetooth stack. Hardware acceleration can be beneficial to achieve user-friendly connection times.
What is a Bluetooth Low Energy enabled device definition?
See Zigbee Direct Device; Zigbee Virtual Device definitions.
Is a trust center needed in order to use Zigbee Direct?
No. Zigbee Direct functions on both Distributed Security networks and Centralized Security networks, as such a Trust Center is not required in every installation.
The Zigbee Direct specification covers the cases where the Trust Center is located on the Zigbee Virtual Device (i.e. on the Bluetooth Low Energy side) or where the Zigbee Direct-aware Trust Center is located on the Zigbee network.
Is a Gateway or a Hub needed to use Zigbee Direct?
Zigbee Direct offers the option to function without a gateway or a hub. The Zigbee device that implements Zigbee Direct (ZDD) enables the exchange of data between Bluetooth Low Energy-based devices (ZVDs) and a Zigbee device or network.
Zigbee Direct will enable the configuration of Zigbee parameters, such as forming or joining a Zigbee network, on a Zigbee Direct-enabled gateway or hub using a Zigbee Virtual Device.
Zigbee Direct will enable the commissioning of Zigbee devices into a gateway-based network.
When will the certification program be open for use?
The certification program for Zigbee Direct 1.0 opened in December 2022.
What is the certification requirement for Zigbee Direct?
Certification is required for devices implementing Zigbee Direct defined functionality, both Zigbee Direct Devices (ZDDs) and Zigbee Virtual Devices (ZVDs), as well as Zigbee Direct-aware Trust Centers.
Does the device need to be Bluetooth Low Energy certified?
Yes, the device implementing Zigbee Direct-defined functionality (both ZDD and ZVD) needs to support Bluetooth Low Energy with version 4.0 or higher.
How is a Zigbee Direct device certified?
For a Zigbee Direct Device (ZDD), support of Zigbee Direct is an optional feature on top of Zigbee 3.0 compliance. Depending on the device type (ZC, ZR, ZED) and the device description supported, the ZDD will have to go through all the applicable Zigbee 3.0 tests, in addition to the dedicated Zigbee Direct tests.
A ZVD device will only have to certify to the Zigbee Direct specification. A ZVD test specification will likely reference relevant parts of other Zigbee 3.0 test specifications.
Is Zigbee Direct eligible for Certification Transfer?
Zigbee Direct specification does not currently propose any changes for the Certification Transfer, thus the rules as defined in the Connectivity Standards Alliance Certification Policy apply.
How much does Zigbee Certification cost?
Certification fees depend on the certification type and your membership level. Learn more about the advantages of certification.
What test houses support Zigbee Direct certification testing?
Zigbee Direct devices can be tested at any Alliance-authorized test service provider that is currently validated to perform Zigbee certification testing. Our authorized test houses have numerous locations worldwide. See all Alliance-approved Testing Providers.