Bell orders up wireless vending concept
By: Greg Enright
Visitors to a conference centre in Kingston, Ont. are
getting a taste of how to order a soda pop the
futuristic way, thanks to a new, wirelessly enabled
Guests at the Ambassador Conference Resort were able to
use the drink dispenser as part of a trial of wireless
vending technology from Bell Canada. Users can order
their favourite beverages by simply swiping their hotel
room key card through the machine's card reader or by
using any mobile phone. The cost of the drink is then
tagged to the guest's room bill for payment upon
The trial will last 90 days and is, according to a Bell
statement, the first of its kind in Canada to combine
mobile phone and card key technologies operating over a
Bell is working in conjunction with Coca-Cola Bottling
Co., and technology firms Kaba Ilco Inc., cStar
Technologies and RSI International Systems Inc. cStar
specializes in two-way, wireless data communication
solutions for M2M (machine-to-machine, machine-to-men,
machine-to-mobile) and mobile-commerce applications.
According to the Toronto-based cStar's Web site, the
company develops and markets "communication products
that wirelessly connect companies' non-IT assets to
their IT systems, enabling them to monitor, control and
manage machines remotely, to automate various processes
and to create value-added services."
Winston Salem, N.C.-based Kaba Ilco makes access control
products. RSI, of North Vancouver, B.C., provides
property management and reservation systems to the hotel
and resort industry.
According to Allan de Paulsen, senior associate
director, Bell Canada Wireless Business Solutions, no
future plans for this type of wireless vending
technology have been put in place, but will depend on
the findings Bell gets out of this trial.
"So far, the metrics have been positive," he said.
According to Paulson, the network's operation was fixed
at 900 MHz so it does not interfere with the resort's
802.11-based wireless local area network.
A total of eight machines at the hotel are equipped with
the wireless capability. Drinks available include
Coca-Cola beverages such as waters, juices, soft drinks,
juice drinks, sport drinks and ice teas.
According to de Paulsen, a user unfamiliar with the
process of ordering drinks by way of a cell phone would
require no more than 30 seconds to complete their first
"[The cell phone capability] is also helpful for people
at the hotel who might be there only for a conference
and who aren't staying at the hotel and would therefore
not have a room key," de Paulsen added.