Enterprising comms system keeps staff in touch

Inspired by the ‘commbadges’ worn in Star Trek, US-based Vocera has developed a similar badge and an associated communications system to make it work.

The Vocera communications system itself consists of server software, residing on a customer premise server, and the communications badges, which operate over a wireless LAN (802.11b). The badge – which weighs less than 2 ounces – includes a microphone and speaker, LCD readout to display text messages, and an 802.11b wireless radio. It can be clipped to a shirt pocket or collar, or worn on a lanyard.

Julie Shimer, Vocera’s chief executive officer, explained that, to enable up to 400 of the badges to be used over a LAN with a capacity of 11Mbit/sec, compression is used to remove repetitive data, gaps and some sound degradation.

The Vocera Communications System will be available this month in the US and will be sold through select value-added resellers. The Vocera Communications System pricing is based on purchases of Vocera Server Software, Vocera Communications Badges, and software maintenance agreement. Server software licenses start at a list price of $20,000 for a 75-seat users’ license and the Vocera Communications Badge is listed at $400.

The company is aiming its system at workers who need to frequently communicate with one another in industries such as healthcare, retail, and manufacturing.

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