More companies are connecting their frontline workers to allow them to complete transactions at the point of sale or point of service.
Retailers know that reducing queue times at check-outs is a key factor in achieving customer satisfaction, and enables retailers to offer their customers a superior service.
The full 'queue-busting' solution has enabled retailers to set up mobile check-outs in-store, allowing them to deal with customer lines on the spot and reduce waiting times.
The system works by scanning products using a hand-held device that accesses the retailer's own system in real time over a radio frequency infrastructure, thus providing up-to-date product, price and promotion information. Receipts are then issued using lightweight mobile printers, worn by staff.
The first breakthrough in wireless communication for personal area networks (Pans) was the use of infrared communications and the establishment of a universal standard, IrDA.
Its robustness and ability to handle two-way communication are yet to be matched by competitive products. IrDA is likely to be the preferred wireless solution for short-range (up to one metre) point-to-point transmissions, particularly because of its low cost.
Heralded as superior to IrDA, Bluetooth has started to make inroads in the hand-held computing market. The systems are still much more expensive than IrDA, but there is the promise of a low cost of ownership, ease of use and a fully interoperable system.
The extra distance offered by Bluetooth is not so important when it comes to Pans, but the promise of costs in line with those of IrDA and the absence of close line-of-sight make Bluetooth's potential intriguing.
Wireless Pans, connecting hand-helds and peripherals with either IrDA or Bluetooth, will dominate in mobile computing applications.
Connectivity to wireless local and wide area networks will mainly be handled by radios in the computer system. Switching seamlessly from a wireless Lan running 802.11b to peer-to-peer wireless Pans using Bluetooth will be a defining requirement.
Anyone involved in mobile computing should be moving to wireless Pans. Resellers should be familiar with the two types of wireless options, IrDA and Bluetooth, and understand the processes involved in implementing solutions using both methods.
It is important to learn the differences created by the close-line-of-sight needs of IrDA and the longer-range ability to communicate through solid objects offered by Bluetooth.
Tony Revis is general manager at Extech Instruments.
CRN pulls out the key information from Microsoft's Q4, which took the vendor above $100bn for the year
Investment will include an AI research centre in London
John Coulston outlines Rackspace's plans to partner with the channel in the UK
Chris Bunch of Microsoft partner Cloudreach gives his take on this year's Inspire conference