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Motorola brings VoIP to the shop floor

Barcode readers you can talk to

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It's not just mobile phones that are getting more features than you can possibly use, Motorola's latest barcode scanner has a VoIP client built in to allow shelf-stackers to chat while they're working.

The CA50 isn't a fully-fledged Windows Mobile device, as it only utilises Windows CE and is designed to use web-hosted applications over Wi-Fi connections, but the use of CE does make bundling VoIP easy from a software point of view at least. The real question is why one would want to.

Motorola suggests the device can be used to communicate with shop floor staff, where Wi-Fi infrastructure has been deployed. SIP is supported, as well as one to one and one to many communications managed by the supporting servers.

It could be argued that this is a mobile phone with a barcode reader slapped on the back*: but VoIP has become so ubiquitous as to cease to be the defining characteristic of a mobile phone. The major barrier to implementing voice on any device is now bandwidth, and with support for 802.11a, b and g that's not a problem here (though, of course, you wouldn't be using 802.11a in the UK where the 5GHz frequency is licensed).

As a Wi-Fi barcode reader the CA50 is reasonably priced, at £270, but VoIP is likely to be a killer feature for that (perhaps tiny) demographic that really needs a barcode reader they can talk to. ®

* Yes, S60 devices do now come with software to read barcodes using the camera, but it's hardly comparable to a laser reader for utility and speed.

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