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Motorola, Firms to Transform Bar Codes

Looking to make a different play in the wireless e-commerce arena, titan Motorola Inc. Thursday teamed with smaller mobile technology firms to create a new company which aims to get new life out of the ordinary bar codes on a number of products.

Together with Symbol Technologies Inc., Connect Things Inc. an affiliate of LM Ericsson AB and AirClic Inc., Motorola plans to invest $500 million in the startup.

Led by Symbol's bar code scanning technology, the coalition will create a registry of universal product codes for executing tasks to enable companies' wireless phones, cable TV set-top terminals, and other Internet-enabled appliances to access the Internet via one-scan bar codes.

They will be embedded on products, in publications including brochures and company advertisements, and on television. By scanning a Web code with an enabled Internet device, people will be connected directly to Web sites to order products, find information, and manage everyday tasks and transactions.

Any information that gets scanned will be sent instantly to the new company's Web code registry, which interprets the nature of the inquiry and delivers corresponding information to users. The information will include product-ordering links, promotional offers, downloads for music, product usage and service data, as well as cross references to other applicable Internet sites.

Chris Galvin, Motorola's chairman and chief executive officer, said the venture would bring the company closer to pushing the envelope in the future of wireless Web. Galvin also noted that it would put Motorola's wireless phones, cable set-top boxes and other devices to work.

Though each firm will bring unique technologies and capital to make the venture work, Motorola will also bring intellectual property to the new company's Web code registry. Connect Things will contribute its database for high-volume, direct bar code links to Web addresses, which are used in Europe for connecting bar codes to specific pages within a particular Web site. AirClic will bring its open platform operating model to the new company.

"This transcending convergence of wireless and scanning technologies will allow us to seamlessly link the physical world of 'people on the move' and at work to the virtual world of the Internet, and creates infinite possibilities for mainstream consumer applications," said Tomo Razmilovic, president and CEO-elect, Symbol Technologies.

Earlier this week, Motorola displayed its desire to advance wireless technology by unveiling products based on an emerging short-range wireless standard and signed development deals with IBM and Toshiba. The tools -- an internal PC card and an external universal serial bus device -- are based on the popular Bluetooth technology.