December 8, 2004 1:24 PM PST
World's first ZigBee phone unveiled
ZigBee--an emerging low-power networking standard--could allow any device containing a microprocessor to be given a wireless network connection that would let it be remotely controlled or act as a sensor.
Experts such as Ethernet creator Bob Metcalfe believe ZigBee could be massive within a few years. It currently awaits ratification as a standard.
Despite this, Pantech&Curitel has come out with its P1 ZigBee-enabled phone, which they are demonstrating at the ZigBee Alliance Festival in Seoul. Pantech&Curitel claims the P1 could be used to control domestic electrical appliances and monitor temperature and humidity.
If the home also had a ZigBee-compatible alarm system, the phone could be alerted about possible break-ins, Pantech&Curiteln said in a statement.
"The worldwide IT industry is progressing toward environments where wireless is ubiquitous," said Mi-Hyang Han of Pantech&Curitel, suggesting that handsets could be used to access a wide array of wireless applications. "Mobile phones, which are becoming more like commodities, are likely to be the hub of this new era."
But according to Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR), a UK wireless chip manufacturer, ZigBee is still too young for work.
"The standard's not been ratified, so it's hard to see how there can be a phone out there that is ZigBee-ratified," said Eric Jansen, CSR vice-president for North America. "My first question is, 'What will it connect to?'"
The products section of the ZigBee Alliance's Web site just contains a logo saying "coming soon."
Jansen acknowledged that the first examples of any network technology have trouble finding things to connect to.
"This particular product is a bit before its time, but good on them for pulling it off," Jansen added.
Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.