Getting Wireless Gadgets On The Same Wavelength

The upcoming world of wireless gadgets, including such "personal digital assistants" as Apple Computer Inc.'s Newton and Zoomer from Tandy Corp. and Casio Corp. could turn out to be an electronic Tower of Babel. That's because the wireless data networks these devices will use don't work together. You may not be able to send a wireless electronic mail message from your pocket communicator to a friend unless the friend's device is on the same network.

Motorola Inc. says it has found a way to ease this potential communications breakdown. On Apr. 28, it announced software that masks the differences among various wireless data systems, such as the Ardis Co. and RAM Mobile Data networks. Motorola says it will license its software to all comers when it becomes finalized late this year. It has won support from Ardis, RAM, and MTel, which ewns the SkyTel satellite pager network, but has yet to sign up any cellular-phone operators. Until they agree, the promised era of personal communications may, ironically, be hindered by a lack of communication.

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