Dana Blankenhorn writes about the new wireless standard in the context of the always-on world:
[Zigbee] sits at the “sweet spot” of Always-On, where radios and cheap chips can create revolutions. As a PDF overview of the standard makes clear, Zigbee is designed as a low power, low bandwidth, low range radio standard. Doesn’t sound like much, until you realize what this enables.
It means you can have single-chip radio computers that transmit data when necessary, and run for years. The single-chip could be a medical monitor, or it could be an enviromental monitor. Combine this with the price-performance breakthroughs we’re seeing in biochips and we have the Always-On revolution.
Think about it. A Zigbee radio chip monitors your heart, your blood sugar, your electrolytes, anything your doctor wants monitored. These figures are transmitted, using the radio, to a central “server” you might wear on your wrist or in your pocket. That server can analyze the data, but it also has a Zigbee radio which, when it can, finds the network and dumps the data to the Internet. A simple program could alert you when dangerous readings are found, and the same program could alert your doctor of an emergency service.
Here’s another application. Zigbee radio chips buried in your lawn monitor the moisture level in your soil, and when a certain level is reached the water is turned on just where it’s needed. (Imagine what that can do for golf courses.)
Yet another application. Zigbee radio chips in your office monitor the condition of the air, while other chips monitor to see who is in the room, so that the air conditioner comes on only when it’s needed. Imagine the energy savings.
Best of all, Zigbee can operate in the same unlicensed frequencies as your home LAN. A home server can thus use PC applications and the Internet to link Zigbee data to the world.