MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The opening of a product development centre will completely change the way Bell Canada employees develop next-generation wireless products and services, company officials said.

The carrier welcomed Nortel, Samsung and other partners and customers last month to the official

opening of the Wireless Innovation Centre. Executives described the facility as a 5,000-sq. ft. controlled customer simulation environment, where cell phones, handheld devices and mobile applications will be conceived and eventually showcased.

The presentation room, for example, includes a theatre-style seating area where images can be viewed on a space about the width of a movie screen. Behind its surface are built-in glass cases where new products, can be suddenly illuminated. There are windows in this room, but at the touch of a button, the glass is instantly frosted.

Every part of the centre is Wi-Fi enabled.

Outside the presentation room is a conveyor belt that holds Bell’s latest wireless products on transparent pedestals, which rotates like a carousel behind a pane of glass.

Eugene Roman, Bell’s group president of systems and technology, likened the centre to an incubator. The centre will be a place for testing, systems integration and will provide a “”neutral zone”” where products can be taken from idea to full production, he said.

“”We really don’t care what part of the company (product teams) come from,”” he told an audience of employees and visitors. “”You can’t predict the future, but this will offer a degree of line of site into the future.””

Bell demonstrated several location-based services, including Java MapMe, which can identify a cell phone user’s location within a map and allow them to scroll onto various nearby sites and get more detailed information about them. A telematics service, meanwhile, includes a Web application and a mounted telepod which can give fleet managers odometer readings and information on a truck’s most recent 50 stops, something employees dubbed a GPS “”breadcrumb trail.””

—ITBusiness.ca

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