We had a bit of a hiccup at my club the other day. A couple of our BridgeMate table units had been stored with something pressing on the keypad and had flat batteries. We had run out of spare batteries so we didn't have enough working BridgeMates to go around.
Virtual Mate to the rescue! Virtual Mate acts like an extra BridgeMate table unit. Ideally you should run Virtual Mate on the scoring computer (place the computer near the table which lacks a BridgeMate table unit). That way, the scores get included in real time just like from a real BridgeMate.
In extremis you can run Virtual Mate on a separate computer (or several if you happen to have an inexhaustable supply of laptops!). It will produce a file which will be picked up automatically by Duplicate Scorer and merged with the current BridgeMate results.
If you have a network, then Virtual Mate can continuously pass results to Duplicate Scorer on the scoring computer, for inclusion in real time. Without a network you just have to copy the Virtual Mate result file onto the scoring computer at the end of the session.
There's even a PDA version of Virtual Mate in the pipeline.
Note that Virtual Mate does not replace the BridgeMate system - it's not wireless for one thing. Also, you still need the BridgeMate server and associated software running. On the other hand Virtual Mate might just get you out of a hole if, for any reason, you don't have enough BridgeMate units to go around.