Wireless Week reports that the low-power, long-lived ZigBee standard is gaining momentum: ZigBee (802.15.4) is designed to provide small amounts of information over a very long period so that it can be embedded as radio technology in sensors and remote controls. The idea is that devices that otherwise would require wires in order to produce readings could deliver telemetry or send very small control strings and not require battery changes for many months or even years.
If ZigBee became widespread, it would dramatically reduce the need for wiring for heating/cooling in hotels and office buildings (and eventually in homes). It would also allow many incompatible systems to be replaced with one simple standard that will be cost effective to manufacture in bulk.
Right now, ZigBee single chip chipsets are $3 to $5. It needs to get below a buck. Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe, the chairman of a key chipmaker, noted that 10b microcontrollers are sold every year, and ZigBee could be significant part of that market.