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334 Part V: The Part of Tens

Your Wearing Apparel

Wireless is also making its way into your clothing. Researchers are already experimenting with so-called wearables — the merging of 802.11 and Bluetooth directly into clothing so that it can have networking capabilities. Want to synch your PDA? No problem — just stick it in your pocket. MIT Labs has been showing off some clothing that looks more like a Borg from Star Trek than anything practical, but there are all sorts of companies working on waterproof and washerproof devices for wirelessly connecting to your home wireless network.

Wireless technology will also infiltrate your clothing through radio frequency identification tags, or RFIDs, which are very small, lightweight, electronic read/write storage devices (microchips) that are half the size of a grain of sand. They listen for a radio query and when pinged, respond back by transmitting their ID code. Most RFID tags have no batteries because they use the power from the initial radio signal to transmit their response; thus, they never wear out. Data is accessible in real time through handheld and/or fixedposition readers, using RF signals to transfer data to and from tags. RFID applications are infinite, but when embedded in clothing, RFIDs will offer applications such as tracking people (like kids at school) or sorting clothing from the dryer (no more problems matching socks or identifying clothes for each child’s pile).

A technology of great impact in our lifetime is GPS, which is increasingly being built into cars, cell phones, devices, and clothing. GPS equipment and chips are so cheap that you’re going to find them everywhere. They are used in amusement parks to help keep track of your kids. Some shoe manufacturers are talking about embedding chips in shoes.

Most GPS-driven applications have software that enables you to interpret the GPS results. So you can grab a Web tablet at home while on your couch, wirelessly surf to the tracking Web site, and determine where Fido (or Fred) is located. Want to see whether your wife’s car is heading home from work yet? Grab your PDA as you walk down the street, log onto a nearby hot spot, and check it out. A lot of applications are also being ported to cell phones, so you also can use those wireless devices to find out what’s going on.

GPS-based devices — primarily in a watch form — are available that can track people. The Wherify Watch, shown in Figure 19-2, is a great device that allows you to track children and the elderly (such as Alzheimer’s patients) who might wander off. The caretaker can then go to a Web site, view a map showing the wearer’s location, and easily find the wanderer.

Chapter 19: More Than Ten Devices . . . 335

Figure 19-2:

The Wherify


You can actually replay the signals received from the device over a period of time — sort of like a Family Circus cartoon showing the path of the little kid bopping around town. Watches are pricey, running about $300–$400 apiece plus monthly monitoring fees of $10–$50.

Check out companies like Wherify (www.wherify.com) and Applied Digital Solutions (www.digitalangel.net) for their products. Applied Digital has developed VeriChip (www.adsx.com/prodservpart/verichip.html) that can be implanted under the skin for people in high-risk (think kidnapping) areas overseas. This chip is an implantable, 12 mm x 2.1 mm radio frequency device, about the size of the point of a ballpoint pen. It contains a unique verification number.

Although watches are a great form factor for lots of wireless connectivity opportunities, they have been hampered by either wired interface requirements (like a USB connection) or an infrared (IR) connection (which requires line-of-sight to a specific on-ramp). Expect these same devices to very quickly take on Bluetooth and 802.11 interfaces so that constant updating — like with the Microsoft Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) model (www.microsoft.com/SPOT/) — can occur. Watches are also popular for

336 Part V: The Part of Tens

Taking pictures: The Casio (www.casio.com) WQV10D-2 Color Wrist Camera watch with color liquid crystal display (LCD) lets you snap up to 100 images in JPEG format. A 2X digital zoom enables you to get closer to your subjects, and IR transfer enables you to share your pictures with other Casio wrist cameras and your PC. An RF option is surely on the way.

Looking up phone numbers: The Casio BZX201SCR PC Unite Watch is equipped with infrared capabilities, plus enhanced PC synchronization functions. In addition to being able to exchange personal information manager data with a computer, the PC Unite also can link with Microsoft Outlook and even exchange data with a portable terminal such as a PDA.

Creating wireless connectivity via jewelry bears its own set of issues because of the size and weight requirements of the host jewelry for any wireless system. The smaller the jewelry, the less power that the wireless transmitter can have to do its job. The less power, the shorter the range, and so the more limited the bandwidth and application of the device.

Chapter 20

Top Ten Sources for More


In This Chapter

Shopping on CNET

Blogging for 802.11

Practically (wireless) networking

Surfing the vendor sites

We’ve tried hard in this book to capture all that’s happening with wireless networks in the home. However, we can’t cover everything in one

book, and so, in fairness to other publications, we’re leaving some things for them to talk about on their Web sites and in their print publications. (Nice of us, isn’t it?)

We want to keep you informed of the latest changes to what’s in this book. So we encourage you to check out the Wireless Home Networking For Dummies update site at www.dummies.com/extras — where you can find updates and new information.

Here’s a listing of those publications that we read regularly (and therefore recommend unabashedly) and which you should get your hands on as part of your home wireless networking project. Many of these sources provide up-to- date performance information, which can be critical when making a decision about which equipment to buy and what standards to pursue.

The Web sites mentioned also have a ton of information online, but you might have to try different search keywords to find what you’re looking for. Some publications like to use the term Wi-Fi, for instance, while others use 802.11. If you don’t get hits on certain terms when you’re searching around, try other ones that you know. It’s rare to come up empty on a search about wireless networking these days. All sites listed here are free.