Update: For a more detailed description of UPS's system, see this feature.

If you thought wearable computers or techno-jewelry were chic, think again. As with all technologies, it's the grim practical world that gets there first. Delivery company UPS is going to give 55,000 wireless rings to all its sorting staff, to scan and track packages.

Compared with last week's wireless surfboard, UPS' wireless ring turns is a practical device: using both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the rings will scan and transmit information on packages, so the exact whereabouts of any parcel can be checked by customers on the UPS site.

A scanner on the middle finger reads the barcode on the packet and transmits the information by Bluetooth to a Wi-Fi terminal worn on the waist, which relays the information to UPS' network. The company expects to have it in 118 countries by 2007, with something like 12,000 access points in 2000 offices. The project started in Europe, with tests in Munich, and will be rolled out in earnest now, with 73 sites in operation by the end of 2005.

A wireless system is more practical than existing wired systems, and will mean fewer repairs and spares required, said UPS. Drivers don't get to wear a ring though: they have a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/GPRS/GPS handheld computer

Back in April, the Cloud announced it would be shipping Wi-Fi enabled trousers, but as that announcement took place on 1 April, UPS may have the first truly wearable Wi-Fi system.

Unless, of course, you know different...

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