The IEEE has approved the 802.15.4 wireless standard for simple devices. More widely known as ZigBee, designed for low power, low complexity units, applications for 802.15.4 include interactive toys, inventory tracking and smart badges. WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Network) devices are intended to operate in the user’s Personal Operating Space (POS), an area of effect of about ten metres.
Based on the broader Bluetooth specification, the standard covers three data rates: 20kbps, 40kbps and 250kbps, but is differentiated from HomeRF and Bluetooth by its greater emphasis on device simplicity and low power consumption.
Of course, there will be more privacy worries raised as inventory tags employing RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags become more sophisticated, smaller and indeed washable. Clothing stores will not only be able to track their products in the warehouse and on the shelves but will know when you come back wearing something you bought there. Gillette recently abandoned (for the time being) plans to use RFID technology in their Mach 3 line of razor blades in Europe.
Digital Sun already have an interesting 802.15.14 product in the market: the S.Sense. There are two main components: a receiver that fits the control box of your garden sprinkler and an number spikes that you insert into your lawn. When the spikes detect that the ground is dry, they notify the sprinkler to do its stuff. Because of the low power consumption of the standard, each spike will fun for about a year on a AA battery.