cStar's Route Manager software package allows route drivers to collect and display information from vending machines fitted with cStar "SkyGate" devices...

VENDING TIMES August 25 ~ September 24, 2001 Volume 41, No 10. page 12


TORONTO - cStar Technologies has announced the introduction of "Route Manager" software package for handheld computers running under Microsoft's "PocketPC" (formerly "Windows CE") operating environment. This allows route drivers to collect and display information from vending machines fitted with cStar "SkyGate" devices. According to cStar vice-president of technical marketing Mike Coveley, a driver carrying a handheld computer running "Route Manager" not only can poll "SkyGate"- equipped machines from curbside, using a cradle mounted in the truck, but also can collect data more conventionally at each machine, either using a DEX connection or infrared link. "Route Manager" is designed to give operators great flexibility in configuring machines on their routes, using cStar's powerline data communications system when necessary to create local-area networks, adding "SkyGate" when required to allow those LANs to communicate with a vehicle at curbside, or linking location LANs into wide-area networks for data retrieval from a central station. Coveley points out that many vending machines never will be equipped for wireless data

transmission, and operators need solutions that will allow them to collect, retrieve and display information easily anduniformly without regard to the machine's communications capability. cStar has designed "Route Manager" to provide high security in retrieving information. cStar's system permits the operator to choose the level of security required, up to a bank standard, if desired. Route, location and user IDs are required to access data, and the information is compressed and encrypted for transmission. Another design objective has been to speed the integration of data collected over cStar local and wide area networks with existing industry standard management software. A handheld computer running "Route Manager" features open architecture and uses a standard Microsoft interface to deliver the information it collects in standard database format. "Route Manager" also can be run as a standalone program, for example, on a laptop computer, giving the user access to such standard applications as Microsoft "Office," "Access" and "Excel." cStar will exhibit its hardware and software at the upcoming National Automatic Merchandising Association National Expo, in booth 812.