The Null Device

ZigBee

This is a fairly nifty idea: 802.15.4, a.k.a. ZigBee, a two-way, low-bandwidth wireless communications standard for home automation and miscellaneous gadgets; i.e., somewhere between those old X10 gadgets and WiFi/Bluetooth:
Because ZigBee has a range of only about 30 feet, and sends data in infrequent bursts, batteries could last for a couple of years without having to replace them.
A recent analyst report issued by West Technology Research Solutions estimates that by 2008 "annual shipments for ZigBee chipsets into the home automation segment alone will exceed 339 million units," and will show up in "light switches, fire and smoke detectors, thermostats, appliances in the kitchen, video and audio remote controls, landscaping, and security systems."

I think that the minimalism of the system, and the fact that, consequently, gadgets can run on a battery for years, is probably its most elegant feature; and I thought such minimalism was out of fashion when the standard practice was imagining that energy, CPU cycles and bandwidth were free and limitless, or would become so, and that in a House of the Future, the thermostats and smoke alarms would have gigabytes of RAM, Pentium-class CPUs, run on Embedded Windows XP and constantly spew out RF in carcinogenic quantities whilst trading cybergossip with the Internet Fridge and Secure Media Entertainment Center.

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