Upstart wireless firms flock to Bell Mobility showcase

Names like Soft Tracks and Genieworks may not be as familiar as Compaq and Kyocera. But at Bell Mobility’s Wireless Showcase Tuesday, it was the small and lesser-known Canadian companies offering some of the more interesting applications for the untethered world.

Mississauga, Ont.–based Genieworks Corp. displayed its miDesk professional services automation software. The subscription-based product allows global access to sales, client, project, time and expense data through wireless devices.

“The fundamental concept of what we do is zero latency. It’s the ability, in as close to as little time as possible, to process information and deliver it to the people that need it,” said co-president and co-CEO Edward Nash. He added the software allows managers to know when projects will be finished and when consultants will be ready to take on new assignments.

Soft Tracks, of Richmond, B.C., is the company behind the Skypay wireless payment system. The system enables acceptance of payment on cellular phones, personal digital assistants and dedicated point-of-ale devices in grocery stores. The Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank are among the financial institutions supporting the Skypay system.

While more recognizable wireless vendors like Compaq Canada Corp. Research in Motion Ltd., Kyocera International Inc. and Motorola Canada Ltd. were mainly showing off their hardware, other smaller vendors at the one-day sales event had the value-added solutions for those appliances.

Toronto-based Nextair Corp. provides wireless dispatching software, for both large enterprises like Fuji Photo Film Canada Inc. and Compugen Systems Ltd. and smaller businesses like courier companies.

“It optimizes the dispatch process, utilizing full two-way data exchange,” said vice-president of business development Len Vanspall.

Vanspall said the service, a combination of software and airtime that runs on any wireless device, can be purchased directly from the company, though Nextair delivers the service mainly through carriers like Bell Mobility. He added Nextair also licenses its software-building tool set, allowing companies to extend the dispatching applications to also accommodate sales forces.

MobileQ Inc., which is headquartered in New York but runs its operations and development out of Toronto, displayed its flagship product, XML Edge. The development and deployment software allows enterprises to deliver data to employees consistently across all wireless devices. Because XMLEdge separates the presentation and data aspects of an application, it can promise support for new devices before they even hit the market, according to MobileQ.

“You can mobilize all applications, existing and new,” said account executive Barnes Lam.

The only piece of hardware on display not from a major vendor came courtesy of BarCode Holdings Ltd. The Mississauga, Ont.-based company has been in the automation identification industry for 23 years, manufacturing products like wired barcode scanners. BHL’s wireless offering is the B500 barcode peripheral, a wireless scanner that attaches directly to RIM devices.

BHL president Don Campbell said the product is designed for field workers, such as those visiting convenience stores to obtain product orders for snack companies. “I can send that order into corporate while I’m going to the next store rather than waiting until the end of the day,” Campbell said, adding automatic scanning is more accurate than punching in long serial numbers digit by digit.

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