Organizations with Web applications have few choices to get them onto mobile devices for in-building staff. The most common option is a cellular smart phone, which only works for those entitled to such a perk.
Polycom Inc. hopes to change that with the latest in its line of SpectraLink wireless handsets for wireless local area networks (WLANs) The company said Tuesday that the 8400 series, which uses voice over WiFi on 802.11a/b/g/n networks, has the open source WebKit XHTML-based browser that can show data on a 2.2-inch diagonal TFT colour screen.
In addition, one model comes with an integrated bar code reader, which will be pitched at the health care and warehouse workers who now carry separate phones and readers.
Other verticals Polycom will go after are retail and manufacturing.
However, buyers won’t be able to get their hands on the handsets until at least the second quarter of 2011. That’s to give software developers time to port applications to the browser.
“We’re developing handsets that can do much more than voice without compromising voice,” said Ben Guderian, Polycom’s vice-president of wireless solutions. “This is a great example of unified communications in the context of industry-specific communications-enabled business practices.”
The SpectraLink line competes against Cisco Systems Inc.’sWIP310 and Windows Mobile-based units from Motorola Inc. (the EWP line of Voice over WLAN handsets) and Vocera Communications Inc. (the Vocera Smartphone).
Motorola’s EWP 3100 has an integrated camera which can read bar codes. However in its literature the company says it’s only for “light duty” scanning.
The Polycom reader, available only on the SpectaLink 8540, is a dedicated scanner.
Guderian said the bar code reader version should be appreciated in hospitals and nursing homes, where staff have to check patient ID against bar-coded medications to ensure there are no mistakes.
Health institutions that use bar codes often have either dedicated readers or software-enabled laptops on movable carts. Polycom says it would be more convenient for staff to use an 8450 that transmits directly back to a nursing station or the hospital’s servers.
However, one industry observer isn’t so sure. Michael Finneran, principal of dBrn Associates, a Hewlett Neck, N.Y., telecommunications consulting firm, thinks most health care facilities will stick with separate readers.