Busy as a Zigbee

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The latest wireless doo-dad to bend notions of time, space, and privacy is Zigbee, the coming new wireless protocol. The idea behind Zigbee is that all the needed components of wireless communication can be put on a single chip. Make the chip cheaply enough, usually just a matter of time and scale, and in theory you can make thousands of devices networkable.

Previously dumb devices—really dumb, like light fixtures—could form a peer-to-peer network zipping all kinds of data around and talking to other devices, everything from cellphones to servers. What kind of data and to what end no one really seems to know, which is both exciting and a little scary.

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  1. I, for one, welcome our new Blue-Toothed, Lamp-Shaded Overlords….
    I believe one of the first questions to be asked, “Are you Sarah Connor?”

  2. And your fridge can communicate with the grocery store when you’re out of milk!!!!

    Reason, put down the VC-inspired PR fluff and step away, system-on-a-chip has been in the works for some time… the man ran 3Com for God’s sakes.

    /Reg has sucked since Mike Magee left.

  3. “Reason, put down the VC-inspired PR fluff and step away, system-on-a-chip has been in the works for some time…”

    Zigbee is a communication standard that makes it easier to build cheap wireless networking devices, and to build them into other devices. It does, in fact, bring ubiquitous networking closer, and has already been deployed. The concept has been around, but why isn’t it worth noting when it gets closer to reality?

  4. Back in the day Wired magazine described this imaginary networked world as “diapers talking to contact lense.” It hasn’t happened yet but the image lingers.

  5. A few years ago, the much-maligned-by-me Sun Microsystems came up with a similar idea (sans the wireless part) called JINI.

  6. Bring it on–Technology is my friend.

    But I sure wish they could come up with some kind of wireless speakers that were truly wireless and didn’t require batteries. Solve that and you’ll not only keep my out of the attic with my 12 foot drill bit AND you’ll have my vote.

  7. Sorry about the grammar, I actually did preview that comment but I had to answer my kid’s question about fractions while doing so. Should have read:

    Solve that and you’ll not only keep me out of the attic with my 12 foot drill bit, BUT you’ll have my vote as well.

  8. Light bulbs should be seen and not heard. Give them a voice, and next thing you know, they’ll want to vote, and we’ll have to stop telling light bulb jokes.

  9. “Light bulbs should be seen and not heard. Give them a voice, and next thing you know, they’ll want to vote, and we’ll have to stop telling light bulb jokes.”-
    Well, you begin to see the dangers of de-marginalization, now my friend. As long as light bulbs had no authentic VOICE in our mechano-technological-capitlist system their needs and aspirations were unknown, NO LONGER! No longer will our system crush the givers of light, as well as, gays, lesbians, the transgendered, the poor and people of colour!

  10. 1) Invent new wireless protocol
    2) Get light bulbs talking to ice-cream cartons.
    3) ????
    4) Profit!!

  11. “The idea behind Zigbee is that all the needed components of wireless communication can be put on a single chip.”

    This has alrady been done with both Bluetooth (a faster, more complicated technology) and RFID (a slower, less complicated technology). Zigbee doesn’t offer anything new as far as single-chip radios go. The premise behind it is to create a short-range radio technology that’s faster than RFID, but is cheaper and consumes much less power than Bluetooth, thus making it ideal for devices that need a moderate amount of bandwidth and/or have to go long stretches of time without being recharged. Sensors, home appliances, computer peripherals, and various industrial devices come to mind.

  12. My intranet is connected to the internet, why do I need chips in light bulbs? I love technology, but some ideas are just stupid. Putting wireless networking technology in everything is just a stupid waste, which means that the guvmint will soon require the technology for everything.

  13. You will be assimilated.

    Resistance is futile.

    Now for only $29.95 a month, you too can have cybernetic implants that let you monitor your light bulbs to make sure that none of them has burned out!

  14. Joe L.
    I think that the mainstream media is pro lightbulb at the expense of other light media, such as church candles. Christians are taking another beating from the media, and only now found out that we are victims.

  15. I propose they stick them in those little kids shoes that light up when they run. Make it one giant network that calculates investment strategies for retirement funds for all those kids running around. Every step would be worth more than the one before it.

  16. “Light bulbs should be seen and not heard.”

    I once hooked up a light bulb so I could use it as a microphone, as an experiment. Believe it or not, everything I recorded with it sounded like it was coming through a lightbulb. It wasn’t what you would call a bright sound.

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