Motorola brings VoIP to the shop floor

Barcode readers you can talk to

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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