Office for Technology Commercialization

Bluetooth to ZigBee Cross Communications

Technology #20180110

Questions about this technology? Ask a Technology Manager

Download Printable PDF

Image Gallery
Cross CommunicationBluetooth to ZigBee
Tian He, PhD
Professor, Computer Science and Engineering
External Link (
Managed By
Kevin Anderson
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-8293
Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed
Demo: BlueBee: 10, 000x faster cross-technology communication from bluetooth to ZigBee
MobiCom 2017 - Proceedings of the 23rd Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, Part F131210, Oct 4 2017, pp. 486-487

Cross-technology Communication from Bluetooth to ZigBee Devices

BlueBee is a physical layer cross-technology communication (CTC) technology that builds direct communication from a commodity Bluetooth device (e.g., smartphone) to a commodity ZigBee device. BlueBee requires no hardware modification at either the Bluetooth transmitter or the ZigBee receiver, and because all modifications are made in the software, BlueBee can be easily deployed to thousands of existing Bluetooth devices. BlueBee adopts a novel PHY emulation algorithm which generates Bluetooth payloads that emulate ZigBee signals in the PHY layer. BlueBee is dual-standard compatible with both Bluetooth and ZigBee, and the Bluetooth packet with emulated ZigBee frame can be received by a commodity Bluetooth receiver and demodulated as a legitimate ZigBee frame.

IoT Network Solution

Current solutions for heterogeneous Internet of Things (IoT) networking use a multi-radio gateway, which increases hardware deployment complexity and cost, generates additional traffic overhead into/out of the gateway on the network, and is unsuitable for ad hoc scenarios. And while cross-technology communication schemes have been developed previously, most are slow or require changes to physical layer standards (protocols). BlueBee overcomes these issues by selecting Bluetooth payloads to emulate ZigBee signals. In addition, BlueBee achieves dual-standard compliance and transparency, requires neither hardware nor firmware changes, and achieves more than 99% accuracy and throughputs 10,000x faster than state-of-the-art CTC technology.


  • Significantly improves data throughput in cross-technology communication from Bluetooth to ZigBee devices
  • Achieves 10,000x throughput improvement
  • No hardware modification for Bluetooth transmitter or ZigBee receiver
  • No changes to physical layer standards
  • No gateway needed
  • Supports low duty cycle scenario
  • Software is compatible with commercial off the shelf (COTS) devices
  • Parallel transmission from Bluetooth to ZigBee on multiple overlapping channel
  • First CTC through PHY emulation from Bluetooth to ZigBee
  • Dual protocol compatible to both Bluetooth and ZigBee
  • Easily deployed to commodity devices


  • Software implemented on mobile and/or IoT devices
  • Smartphones/smart devices
  • ZigBee devices (e.g., smart light bulbs and/or smart thermometers with ZigBee radios)
  • Channel coordination between ZigBee and Bluetooth
  • PHY emulation: using Bluetooth to emulate PHY signal of other wireless radios
  • Home automation
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation
  • Battlefield/ad hoc networks

Phase of Development - Prototype

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.