Zigbee Direct FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Zigbee Direct

What is Zigbee Direct? 

Zigbee Direct is a new feature of Zigbee 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 commissioning and controlling your Zigbee products.  

This is achieved via connecting a Bluetooth Low Energy device with the Zigbee Direct feature (a smart speaker, phone, etc.), referred to as a Zigbee Virtual Device to a Zigbee device concurrently running Bluetooth Low Energy and Zigbee (a hub, a light bulb, etc.), referred to as a Zigbee Direct Device. This communication channel also carries Zigbee network and application messages through the Zigbee Direct Device to the rest of the Zigbee network.

What is a Zigbee Virtual Device (ZVD)? 

A Zigbee Virtual Device (ZVD) is a Bluetooth Low Energy device 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 capable of concurrently running Zigbee (e.g. End Device, Router, Coordinator, Trust Center) and Bluetooth Low Energy stacks, implementing the server-side of the Zigbee Direct defined Bluetooth Low Energy services that enables the exchange of data between certain Bluetooth-based devices (ZVDs) and a Zigbee device or network amd allow commissioning of Zigbee devices for operation on the Zigbee network.

What are the main use cases that Zigbee Direct addresses? 

There are a number of different use cases that center around commissioning and pairing devices in various situations, including: 

  • Bluetooth Low Energy is quickly becoming a customary method for commissioning devices. With Zigbee Direct, ubiquitous Bluetooth Low Energy in existing smart speakers, controllers, smartphones, tablets, hubs, etc. can now be used to commission 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 commission and control new Zigbee devices onto an existing Zigbee network
  • For fully distributed Zigbee networks operating without a hub, Zigbee Direct delivers tools for commissioning 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 full 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. 

What can I control with Zigbee Direct? 

Connect to and control any Zigbee device or group of devices on the mesh, for example, read device status, adjust scenes, change levels, create groups, etc., including the ability to now use a UI on a Bluetooth Low Energy-enabled smart device in cases where it doesn’t currently exist. 

You can also 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 is on par with the latest Zigbee security standards. 

What are the benefits of Zigbee Direct?

Bluetooth Low Energy commissioning is becoming a widely accepted method for adding new devices to an IoT network. Implementing Zigbee Direct provides  another option for commissioning and pairing that is easy for new Zigbee end users to leverage the familiarity of existing Bluetooth Low Energy devices and drive higher adoption. At the same time this new feature provides more flexibility for experienced Zigbee end users, utilizing the convenience of existing Bluetooth Low Energy connected devices to expand their device networks. 

Who benefits from the Zigbee Direct feature and how is it used by consumers/end users?

Ultimately, the main beneficiary of this feature are end users in both the Consumer and Commercial markets. 

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 backwards compatible?

Zigbee Direct is supported on two classes of existing Zigbee networks, as long as at least one ZDD is added to the network:

  • Distributed security networks, that is networks without a central Trust Center
  • Centralized security networks, that is 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?

Although the feature is optional, future versions of Zigbee Pro will include a minimum set of mandatory extensions that make Zigbee Coordinators aware of Zigbee Direct devices in the network.

Is this feature limited to a particular type of Zigbee 3.0 Network?

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 disabled by an authorized source, if usage of Bluetooth Low Energy-based commissioning and controls is not desirable.

Does Zigbee Direct feature need a trust center in order to work?

No. Zigbee Direct functions on both Distributed Security 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 Trust Center is located on the Zigbee network. 

Is a Gateway or a Hub needed for the Zigbee Direct feature to work? 

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 commissioning of Zigbee devices into a gateway based network.

What is the certification requirement for Zigbee Direct? 

Certification will be required for devices implementing Zigbee Direct-defined functionality, both for Zigbee Direct Devices and Zigbee Virtual Devices, as well as Zigbee Direct-aware Trust Centers. The details and timelines for testing and certification are being developed and will be communicated closer to the official feature release.

Does the end device need to be Bluetooth Low Energy certified? 

A device implementing Zigbee Direct-defined functionality (both Zigbee Direct Device and Zigbee Virtual Device) needs to support at least Bluetooth Low Energy with version 4.0 or above.

What certification programs will be supported for Zigbee Direct?

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 Zigbee Virtual Device (ZVD) will have to certify to the Zigbee Direct specification that includes references to relevant parts of other Zigbee 3.0 test specifications.

Zigbee Direct specification does not currently propose any changes for the Certification Transfer, thus the rules as defined in the CSA Certification Policy apply.

Who in the CSA is supporting development of this feature? 

There are about 50 member companies currently on the Balloting Group working on the Zigbee Direct feature.

When is Zigbee Direct going to be available?

The target timeframe for release of Zigbee Direct 1.0 is the first half of 2022.