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FedEx, Motorola Building Business PDA

FedEx drivers will get the PowerPad first. Motorola will sell it more broadly next year.

FedEx Corp. and Motorola Inc. have built a PDA that FedEx plans to distribute to its drivers starting next summer. The PowerPad runs on the Microsoft Pocket PC operating system and includes Bluetooth and GPRS technology for wireless transmission of shipping data.

The device can communicate via infrared signal with a portable printer carried by drivers. The PowerPad will replace a model built 15 years ago, says Ken Pasley, director of wireless systems development for FedEx. It's expected to cut paperwork handled by FedEx administrators because customers can sign their names directly onto the PowerPad screen instead of paper bar-coded sheets.

The PDA is roughly the size of a flip-flop and will capture, store, and transmit the signature to FedEx's database via a public wireless network or FedEx's private network.

Motorola plans to sell the PowerPad to other customers next year. The company refused to say how much the PDAs will cost. Motorola, however, is contractually barred from selling the device to FedEx's direct competitors.

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