Office for Technology Commercialization

Emulation-Based Physical Layer Cross-Technology Communication (WEBee)

Technology #20170338

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ZigBee EmulationZigBee EmulationWiFi PacketIoT
Tian He, PhD
Professor, Computer Science and Engineering
External Link (
Zhijun Li
Harbin Institute of Technology, China
Managed By
Kevin Nickels
Technology Licensing Officer 612-625-7289
Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed

First-Ever Parallel Cross-Technology Communication

WEBee is a physical-level cross-technology communication design based on signal emulation. The first-of-its-kind system translates signals from WiFi into ZigBee, allowing cross talk between two nodes with different wireless communication protocols. This approach uses a high speed wireless radio to reframe a small part of the physical WiFi wave packet in such a way that it matches a ZigBee waveform. The software-only system requires no additional hardware or software for users. Extensive experiments show that WEBee achieves bit rates greater than 16,000x of the current state of the art, with 99% symbol reliability, and can work well under long-distance, mobile, and low duty-cycle scenarios.

Emulates ZigBee Signals


  • Software implemented on WiFi Aps and/or IoT devices, compatible with commercial off the shelf devices
  • Stand-alone solution; zero extra cost of deployment
  • Cross talk between WiFi and ZigBee can improve smart home interconnectivity
  • Does not require changes to WiFi (802.11) or ZigBee (802.15.4) standards
  • 16,000x higher data rate (126 kbps) than FreeBee with 99.9% reliability in noisy environment


  • One-way communication (i.e., from WiFi AP to ZigBee nodes)
  • Smart home technology: WiFi directly controls ZigBee devices in a smart home at high speed and high reliability
  • Wireless coordination among IoT devices with incompatible physical layers
  • WiFi Aps and/or IoT devices
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation
  • Battlefield/ad hoc networks
  • Radio and television broadcasting
  • Wireless communications equipment
  • Transceivers, transmitter-receiving units

Phase of Development - Prototype and testing:
One WiFi access point in communication with two ZigBee nodes; working prototype with proven results.

Interested in Licensing?
The University relies on industry partners to scale up technologies to large enough production capacity for commercial purposes. The license is available for this technology and would be for the sale, manufacture or use of products claimed by the issued patents. Please contact Kevin Nickels to share your business needs and technical interest in this technology and if you are interested in licensing the technology for further research and development.