Fifth-generation device for UPS drivers

The handheld device that UPS drivers use as the primary tool of their trade is getting smaller and smarter. It could soon be as small as a fancy remote control.

UPS and Honeywell International announced Wednesday they are creating a new device – called the DIAD V, or Delivery Information Acquisition Device, fifth-generation.

Brown-clad UPS drivers use the DIADs to scan packages on pick-up, track them during transit and confirm delivery. The devices also have route maps and can send messages to redirect drivers. FedEx drivers use a similar device.

Next year, after testing is completed, 100,000 devices will begin to hit the streets worldwide. The primary improvement is a new microprocessor that can support video, a camera and a navigation system. The camera could be used to confirm delivery or the condition of a package, UPS said.

It's the first time Honeywell, the Morris Township, N.J.-based technology company, will create a DIAD for UPS. Three previous devices were made by Motorola, and the most recent one, the DIAD IV, was made by Symbol Technologies, a company Motorola has since bought, UPS spokeswoman Donna Longino said.

Sandy Springs-based UPS was the first shipping company to give a sophisticated technology to their drivers back in 1991, said Longino. The first devices were the size of a clipboard, she said.

The devices that will be deployed next year will weigh only 1.3 pounds and measure 3.5 inches across, about half the size of what's in the field now, she said.

UPS spent about $22 million to develop the DIAD IV that is currently in use, Longino said. She would not reveal the cost to develop and deploy the newest version.

Doug Caldwell, a principal with, an Oregon-based small package consultancy, said delivery is where things tend to go wrong in the package delivery business.

"So the better the quality of the technology certainly leads to a better delivery which is the make-or-break situation for individual package delivery."