Following is a sampling of the major players in the wireless data-collection industry, listed alphabetically. For more information, please visit the companies' Web sites.

Company: HHP (Hand Held Products, Inc.)
Headquarters: Skaneateles Falls, N.Y.
Specialties: Makes image-based data-collection solutions for mobile, wireless, and transaction-processing applications. Serves retail distribution, warehousing, logistics, and manufacturing markets, among others. Major customers include the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Express, Coca-Cola, and Continental Airlines.

Company: ICS, Inc.
Headquarters: Jacksonville, Fla.
Specialties: Develops and implements software for supply-chain management, including wireless applications. Products include LogiMax warehouse logistics-management solution.

Company: Intermec Technologies Corp.
Headquarters: Everett, Wash.
Specialties: Makes integrated data-collection products, including bar-code scanners, wireless LANs, and development software. Customers include: Dee Electronics, Davis Cookie Co., Bass Pro Shops, and Shenandoah's Pride Dairy.

Company: Psion Teklogix
Headquarters: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Specialties: Makes handheld, vehicle-mounted, and speech-directed wireless data devices. Products used for warehousing, distribution, transportation and logistics, and by repair, inspection, and field teams. Specializes in solutions for companies with multiple sites, complex operations, and large inventories. Major customers include Great Lakes Cheese, Port of Corpus Christi Cold Storage, Lego, and Toyota.

Company: The Ryzex Group
Headquarters: Bellingham, Wash.
Specialties: Develops and services integrated bar-code, data-collection, and wireless technology solutions using hardware and software from many vendors. Offers rental and leasing options as well as less-costly refurbished equipment.

Company: Symbol Technologies Inc.
Headquarters: Holtsville, N.Y.
Specialties: Makes bar-code laser scanners and data-capture devices, mobile and handheld computers, and wireless networks. Serves retailers, logistics and transportation businesses, manufacturers, health-care providers, and hospitality companies, among others. Through agreement with Xplore Technologies Corp., Symbol recently began marketing a rugged tablet PC. Company also makes module transforming any Handspring Visor into a bar-code scanner.

Company: TAL Technologies Inc.
Location: Philadelphia
Specialties: Makes variety of data-acquisition and bar-code software products for wireless networks; also manufactures bar-code scanners.

Analysts suggest considering the following questions when investigating wireless data-collection systems:

  • Do you need bar-code scanning capability?
  • How big an area must the wireless network cover? Can the vendor accommodate your needs if your company grows or moves into larger space?
  • How will the system work with your existing IT environment?
  • How rugged are the handheld computers? Have they been tested to withstand being dropped, and if so, what were the test results?
  • What other options are offered for mobile devices? For instance, can they be mounted on vehicles or worn on the body?