In yet another example of the Japanese obsession with keeping track of people and telling them what to do at the same time, AP reports that the government communications ministry is planning to blanket one of its islands with a Wi-Fi- and RFID -saturated monitoring network.

The vague scheme, which has yet to be confirmed officially, will see a remote part of the country serve as a test-bed for a combination of wireless schemes we've seen before. Of these, the idea of tagging goods in shops with IC chips to send information about products to shoppers' mobile phones and using tags for push advertising are most likely to succeed in the mainstream.

Driving forces

Put simply, anything to do with commerce is likely to end up with powerful forces behind it driving it on. On the other hand, there are at least as many proposed uses for wireless technology that simply don't seem necessary, often because of information overload or an excessive shifting of responsibilities.

Examples include intrusive notions such as installing systems in cars and on roadsides to monitor pedestrians and warn drivers of their presence and devices for remotely monitoring the vital signs of elderly people in their homes , which seem like several helpings too many of pie-in-the sky.