UPS to wield Wi-Fi rings of power

Delivery company UPS is to give wireless rings to all its 55,000 sorting staff, to scan and track packages.

Delivery company UPS is to give wireless rings to all its 55,000 sorting staff, to scan and track packages.

Compared with last week's wireless surfboard, UPS' wireless ring is a practical device: using both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the rings will scan and transmit information about packages, so the exact whereabouts of any parcel can be checked by customers on the UPS site.

A scanner worn on the handler's middle finger reads the barcode on the packet and transmits the information by Bluetooth to a Wi-Fi terminal worn at the waist, which relays it to UPS' network.

The company expects to use it in 118 countries by 2007, with around 12,000 access points in 2,000 offices. The project started in Europe, with tests in Munich, and will be rolled out in earnest now, with 73 sites in operation by the end of 2005.

A wireless system is more practical than existing wired systems, and will  require fewer repairs and spares, said UPS. Drivers will have Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/GPRS/GPS handheld computers.

Peter Judge writes for Techworld.com

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