by Al Sacco

Motorola Unveils First VoIP-Enabled Barcode Scanner

Jan 15, 20083 mins
MobileSmall and Medium BusinessVoIP

First of its kind voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) enabled barcode scanner is meant for use in retail, hospitality and healthcare settings.

Motorola yesterday debuted a new voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) enabled barcode scanner that lets users read barcodes, look up pricing or inventory information and call sales staff from anywhere within a company’s four walls. It’s the first all-in-one gadget of its kind in the retail industry, Motorola says.

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The CA50 VoIP-enabled barcode scanner, aimed at retail, hospitality and healthcare settings, could help improve productivity and customer service while reducing operational expenses, Motorola says. Demonstrated this week at the National Retail Federation’s annual Big Show event, the scanner is scheduled to ship globally during the first quarter of 2008.

The device, which runs on the Windows Mobile CE 5.0 operating system, offers users voice and data services via enterprise Wi-Fi networks (802.11a/b/g).

Motorola CA50 VoIP-Enabled Barcode Scanner
CA50 VoIP Barcode Scanner

Here’s what it might look like in action: A home improvement store sales staffer could scan a barcode on a box of screws for a customer, collect pricing information, and then call back to the store room to see if there are any more boxes in stock, using the one wireless device. Managers could avoid notifications over storewide public announcement systems, and instead use the device’s walkie-talkie functionality to send voice alerts to specific sets of staffers. Healthcare workers could use the device to notify coworkers or doctors that a patient has been dropped off in a specific location.

Since the scanner is interoperable with various enterprise telephony systems from companies like Avaya, calls received through PBXs can be redirected to an appropriate staff member or department.

“The device is quite unique,” says John Britts, senior director of product management, advanced data capture, with Motorola’s Enterprise Mobility business. “You may see discrete scanners or VoIP phones, but this is the first device being packaged in such a way that fits in a pocket, or hangs from an apron or a lanyard.”

Expected to sell for $540, the CA50 looks like a skinny cell phone (at just 4.4 inches tall, 1.8 inches wide and 1 inch think, and weighing less than four ounces) with a clear plate for the scanner on top. But it doesn’t feature a traditional cellular keypad with numbers or letters. Instead, it has five navigation buttons for scrolling through custom commands and options that are preprogrammed as part of specific user profiles. That means users can only employ the CA50 for tasks that are specified by administrators.