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The Z-Wave Alliance, an interoperable ecosystem for wireless control products, today announced that it has expanded its reach to Japan, a move that coincides with Japan’s newly approved radio frequency range for unlicensed, low-power RF device usage in the 900 MHz band.

Z-Wave operates in the sub-gigahertz frequency range, around 900 MHz, with a range of approximately 100 feet. The simple protocol is designed to be embedded in battery operated devices such as remote controls, smoke alarms and security sensors. The standard itself is not open and is available only to Sigma-Designs customers under non-disclosure agreement. The Z-Wave transceiver chip is supplied by Sigma Designs and Mitsumi.

Z-Wave is similar to the ZigBee standard which features mesh networking between nodes and uses both the unlicensed 2.4 GHz (worldwide) and the 868-915 MHz ISM bands.

In related news, the Bluetooth Bulb can be controlled by a smartphone. It lets you pair your phone with one or more of the lights in your home, and then control them via an app. Switch them on, off, change brightness, or set a timer. A special RGB bulb even lets you change the color ambiance.

Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth 4.0), supported by the latest smartphones, uses the 2.4 GHz band and a low energy protocol that enables tiny sensors to monitor health and fitness using small button-cell batteries and are expected to consume a fraction of the power of Classic Bluetooth enabled products.

Nike’s new high-tech sneakers, which went on sale June 29, are the first shoes with Bluetooth Smart sensors in them. Previously, Nike used the ANT+ standard for sensors, which required a plug-in iPhone module

Zigbee, X-10, Z-wave, Insteon, ANT+ and Bluetooth LE are all angling for a piece of the home controller/sensor market. But only Bluetooth LE is likely to be embedded into smartphones.

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