Project: Novel, low power consumption VOIP headset based on ZigBee Technology

Internet telephony (i.e., VoIP - Voice over IP) services are currently used by only a fraction of the worldwide population, although market analysts predict considerable growth for this technology. The EU Commission estimates that 4.9 million people use VoIP in Japan, 1 million use it in the US, but in Europe estimations of use include 110,000 users in Germany, 220,000 in France and 50,000 in the UK. Other European countries, especially the Netherlands and Norway, the number of VoIP subscribers increased significantly by the end of 2005 and many of these markets were reporting strong growth for 2006 and 2007. While the number of current users may be low in comparison to the one billion Internet users worldwide, this is a temporary situation as VoIP is one of many technologies that will affect the electronic communication sector over the coming years. At current trends in the adoption of both broadband and VoIP, 10 to 20% of users in Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States are expected to switch to VoIP between 2007 to 2010 . _x000D__x000D_VoIP technology offers considerable opportunities for global business transactions due to its low cost and new functions that are not possible with traditional phone networks, such as allowing users to travel anywhere in the world. Currently, it is common to find products which simulate traditional phones and that exploit VoIP technology. Most of these “phones” are connected to a PC which has an Internet connection. Other products also include cordless IP telephones based on DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) or WiFi, and wireless headsets using DECT or Bluetooth. Headsets offer many advantages including hands free communication, allowing you to work while communicating and without being in front of the computer. Although these wireless headsets are very convenient, the headsets on the market today have important drawbacks, for example, all of them provide low autonomy due to the high power consumption (250 mW/10 m Bluetooth; 400 mW/50 m DECT; 1000 mW/30 m FIFI), common to all the wireless technologies currently available, and very low distance coverage (in case of Bluetooth). Other general drawbacks is the potential interference with external noise and interference with other wireless technologies._x000D__x000D_The Z-PHONE project will develop a ZigBee-based headset that allows wireless high quality voice communication via PCs using any of the standard VoIP software (e.g., Skype, Messenger). This new wireless technology will be called VoZ, Voice-over-ZigBee, since the voice will be transmitted over the ZigBee protocol (110 mW/50 meters), gaining communication autonomy (x2) and distance (at least x4), compared with Bluetooth technology, currently the technology with least power consumption, since DECT and WiFi technologies consume much more than Bluetooth and can’t be integrated into small devices. The increase of autonomy will result in doubling the life time of the rechargeable battery, and consequently will increase at least by two the life time of the headset, since in the wireless headsets the batteries are physically inseparable from the device, limiting the lifetime of the wireless headset. ZigBee is a wireless standards-based technology that addresses the needs of remote monitoring and control and sensory network applications, enabling broad-based deployment of complex wireless networks with low cost and power solutions that run for years on inexpensive primary batteries. The raw data rate of this technology at 2.4 GHz, 250 kbps is low compared with other wireless technologies, but sufficient to transmit voice using the new narrow-band voice codes, as has been demonstrated at JCB's R&D laboratory. In addition, a USB-ZigBee gateway will be developed to link the VoIP software running on PCs with wireless devices transmitting and receiving the voice data. A specific driver will be developed for such a purpose. These wireless devices will achieve better performance than the best products available in the market today._x000D__x000D_The consortium is well thought out and comprehensive and guarantees complementary and synergistic business interests, ensuring a rapid and dynamic route of the Z-PHONE product to the market. All members are fully committed and motivated to working together to ensure the success of the project. The consortium includes 3 Member States (Spain - JCB, Hungary - FKK and Greece - IAN). Each has a key role to play in the completion of the work and the exploitation of its final results. JCB will take the role of the CO participant and will focus on the implementation of the VoZ technology, USB-ZigBee dongle and the design of the RF part of the headset. FKK’s research activity will be COly centred on two tasks: the development of the VoIP driver on and the development of the wireless VoIP headset. IAN will be involved in voice codec development and integration into a low power DSP (Digital Signal Processor) system.

Acronym Z-PHONE (Reference Number: 4302)
Duration 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2010
Project Topic The aim of the project is to develop a low cost, ultra low-power, long range, ergonomic wireless headset using ZigBee Technology to transmit voice in full-duplex mode for use with leading PC VoIP programs (Skype, Messenger), in addition with a USB-ZigBee bridge module and an essential PC driver.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The goal of the Z-Phone project was to develop an innovative wireless communication device, which offers new features over the existing Bluetooth based devices, such as lower price, lower power consumption and longer range. The prototype, developed during the project, comprises two RF units, the headset and the USB dongle; as well as a Windows compatible driver and a memory resident application. Z-Phone supports full duplex audio conversation, which is solved by the patented Voice-over-ZigBee technology, which meets the condition of the full duplex connection by periodically exchanging audio frames between the two endpoints in the ZigBee network. An open source narrowband speech CODEC, SPEEX, is responsible for en-/decoding of the voice on the PC and on the headset. The prior works under Windows, while the latter implemented on an ultra-low powered audio digital signal processor (DSP). The other advantages of using an audio DSP are the built-in microphone and speaker port that provides amplifying, noise filtering and tone mixing. The memory resident application, running under Windows environment, establishes the connection between the VoIP applications (e.g.: Skype, X-Lite, etc.) and the headset by handling all the call features (e.g.: picking up an incoming call; terminating a call, pairing, etc.) and also invoke the SPEEX CODEC upon request._x000D__x000D_The achieved results are:_x000D_1. - Hardware and firmware of a ZigBee USB dongle was developed and validated _x000D_2. - Hardware and firmware of a ZigBee wireless headset was developed and validated_x000D_3. - A communication protocol, which provides full duplex voice conversation with good voice quality between two ZigBee node was implemented _x000D_4. - Porting of an open source narrowband speech CODEC, SPEEX, to BelaSigna 300 audio DSP, as a part of the headset was successfully accomplished_x000D_5. - An USB driver and a small supplementary memory residual application, which acts as an interface between the VoIP softphone clients and the headset, was developed
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 1

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 JCB Electromecànica, S.L Coordinator Spain
3 Invention and Research Center Services Ltd. Partner Hungary
3 InAccess Networks Partner Greece