ZigBee-chip

After an IEEE meeting of the 802.11s mesh networking task group, there could be a unified standard that mesh devices could conform to for interoperability within a year.

Two leading groups with separate proposals, instead of slugging it out
for a year or two, asked for and were given permission to attempt to
merge into a joint proposal in January. At last week’s IEEE meeting,
the joint proposal was unanimously confirmed as the basis on which to
proceed.

There's also an interesting bit that highlights one of the risks of early adoption.

[...] one risk to municipal networks’ early adoption was that at least four
major metro-scale mesh equipment vendors are still categorized as
startups. A shutdown or change in direction could leave superannuated
equipment scattered like Metricom’s or Vivato’s.

And some technical details for the geeks:

A standard at least moves towards the potential of a trade group
emerging that could set profiles—a la WiMax Forum—for kinds of mesh
behavior. There could be single radio, switched multiple radio,
contention-free sectorized mesh, and other profiles probably designed
by frequency (2.4 GHz, 4.9 GHz, and 5 GHz); it’s unlikely there would
be a one-size-fits-all. Standards open industries to additional
competition, but they can also soothe worried purchasers.

There are presently a couple ZigBee mesh network based RFID solutions on the market from AwarePoint and InnerWireless. StatCom has a programmable data capture device that uses ZigBee. The idea of a relatively low cost network infrastructure that only requires double sided tape or screws to deploy sounds great for health care. If you're scratching your head about the tape and screws, these are wireless devices (no cables and they don't connect over a LAN) and no power lines (they are battery powered with a battery life measured in months or years). We will see more products based on this technology.