UPS Shows How Different Wireless Technologies Work Together
By Mike Masnick, Fri Jun 25 22:45:00 GMT 2004

In contrast to the constant stories about how different wireless technologies will either compete against each other or need to merge together, UPS is showing how different wireless technologies can all work together.

It's easy for some pundits to complain about the different wireless standards, and wonder why we need them all, but many really are targeted at different needs. They may overlap at the edges, but within their niche each standard is a useful solution.

Instead of committing to one wireless standard and trying to shove square pegs into round holes, UPS has been building and improving a wireless system that mixes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connections, making use of the right wireless technology for the situation at hand. First announced a couple years ago, the package delivery company has designed a Bluetooth scanner that can be worn like a ring by workers in the various UPS warehouses. The scanner takes the info, passes it via Bluetooth to a Wi-Fi device on their waist, which updates UPS' database (and lets customers know almost immediately when their package has arrived at the center).

UPS is expanding this new system to their drivers, who are receiving new portable devices that will include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPRS and CDMA radios. The cellular connections are used to report data back following deliveries, while the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can be used at certain customers to easily transmit data about what packages the driver has to pick up or deliver. On top of this, UPS expects to add GPS to both help the driver pinpoint the proper destination, and to better plan out routes and understand where a truck is at any particular time. While some drivers may get upset at feeling more "watched" than before, it's good to see UPS really trying to use the various wireless technologies in the ways they were intended and building a comprehensive solution that merges the various technologies.