Motorola Invests In Vocera

Apr 26, 2007

Motorola has added an undisclosed investment in Vocera, whose 'Star Trek' communicator-style badges have become a hit in hospitals and other hands-free areas. The two companies are working together to tie in handheld computers in a novel twist on mobile computing and communications.

Motorola has made an undisclosed investment in Vocera Communications while Vocera is in the midst of integrating its "Star Trek" inspired technology with Motorola's enterprise digital assistant devices.

Motorola did not reveal how much it is investing in Vocera, but a Vocera spokesman said that Motorola would have "the same rights and preferences as Vocera's current stockholders - and would - not receive special rights as it relates to future partnerships or investments."

Vocera produces handheld, Windows-based devices that run on a wireless network and allow users on that network to speak to one another with the push of a button or via voice commands. They technology is popular with hospitals, where staff can wear the devices around their necks and call a specific person or department by speaking into the equipment.

Vocera is a member of Motorola's third-party software developer program and will integrate its technology with Motorola's MC70 handheld mobile computer, the spokesman said.

The MC70 series debuted in January 2006 and Motorola announced last month that the product would be expanded to support the wireless, high-speed Internet standard known as CDMA-EVDO.

Integrating with Vocera will "allow MC70 users full access to Vocera functionality, enabling connectivity and streamlined workflow for clinical applications," said the Vocera spokesman.

At this point, a test version of the Vocera-enhanced MC70 is being sampled and Vocera is talking with customers for feedback on its features. Vocera expects "to engage in further discussion with customers in Q2 to understand and validate requirements - and - help determine the timing and functionality of field trials and general availability," the spokesman said.

Vocera's technology got a nod in a Tuesday report from ABI Research that predicts a worldwide increase of WiFi hotspots by 25 percent in 2007.

As a result, Vocera will likely be a beneficiary of that boost, specifically in the healthcare and retail spaces, said report author and ABI vice president Stan Schatt. "They're not generating the growth, but they are benefiting from it," he said. "People are starting to add voice over WiFi and are looking at alternatives so Vocera, who partners with everyone, often comes up."

Schatt sees a growth market for Vocera in the hotel industry. "Hotels are deciding that when employees walk around with walkie talkies, it's very disruptive, so Vocera would be a good way to keep in touch," he said.

Copyright 2007 by Ziff Davis Media, Distributed by United Press International

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