CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Mobile

UPS all wrapped up in wireless

The shipping company is arming its drivers with handhelds that connect to six different wireless networks, from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi.

United Parcel Service is arming its drivers with handhelds that connect to six different wireless networks, from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi, the company said Tuesday.

The new UPS-developed Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD) has a record number of ways to wirelessly connect, believes telephone industry analyst Jeff Kagan, who couldn't recall any other handheld that connects with infrared, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) and two cell networks: CDMA1x and GSM/GPRS.

"It reminded me of 'shock and awe,'" Kagan said. "There are just so many different kinds of weapons, tools and technologies."

Packing a device with countless wireless connections has become one of the wireless industry's latest obsessions. But even the most adventurous of device makers have stopped at three, mainly out of concerns over battery life.

UPS project manager Dave Salzman said the handheld's battery, which is about the same size as those found in laptops, has enough power to last a driver's normal workday. Battery life is saved, in part, because the device doesn't use all six connections at a time. Instead, typical uses, like reading a package slip, involve only two connections: Bluetooth to read the package slip, then a cell phone network to send information back to UPS headquarters.

Salzman would not disclose how much UPS is spending on the upgrade, which it intends to complete in the next five years.

The fourth version of the UPS-made DIAD is not likely to make it to store shelves, although Kagan said UPS competitor FedEx and other shipping rivals will scramble to keep up the technological pace.