Big innovations in power consumption and management are making it possible not only to extend battery life for Wi-Fi smartphones, but also to embed Wi-Fi into swarms of new devices and now even wireless sensors: medical monitoring devices, building control systems, real-time location tracking tags and consumer electronics. The result is the ability to continuously monitor and collect data, which can be personalized based on a user's identity and location.
"There's nothing that other contemporary limited-distance RF technologies can do that Wi-Fi can't," writes wireless consultant and Network World blogger Craig Mathias.
"With an enterprise wireless LAN, this infrastructure is already in place," says Atheros' McFarland. "Just add the low-power sensors."
Embedded Wi-Fi vendor Summit Data Communications recently announced 802.11a radios in various plug-in formats to let devices use the uncrowded 5GHz band. Start-up Gainspan offers 11bg Wi-Fi radios, with an IP software stack, that use so little power that wireless sensors can run for years on standard batteries. And Redpine Signals offers a single-stream embedded 11n radio.
Source: Network World: What's next for Wi-Fi?