A barcode scanner is an electronic device for reading printed barcodes. While cell phone cameras without auto-focus are not ideal for reading some common barcode formats, there are 2D barcodes (such as Semacode) which are optimized for cell phones, as well as QR Codes and Data Matrix codes which can be read quickly and accurately with or without auto-focus. These open up a number of applications for consumers:
■ Movies: DVD/VHS movie catalogs
■ Music: CD catalogs, play MP3 when scanned
■ Book catalogs
■ Groceries, nutrition information, making shopping lists when the last of an item is used, etc.
■ Personal Property inventory (for insurance and other purposes)
■ Calling cards: 2D barcodes can store contact information for importing.
■ Brick and mortar shopping: Portable scanners can be used to record items of interest for looking up online at home.
■ Coupon management: weeding expired coupons.
■ Personal finance. Receipts can be tagged with a barcode label and the barcode scanned into personal finance software when entering. Later, scanned receipt images can then be automatically associated with the appropriate entries. Later, the bar codes can be used to rapidly weed out paper copies not required to be retained for tax or asset inventory purposes.
■ If retailers put barcodes on receipts that allowed downloading an electronic copy or encoded the entire receipt in a 2D barcode, consumers could easily import data into personal finance, property inventory, and grocery management software. Receipts scanned on a scanner could be automatically identified and associated with the appropriate entries in finance and property inventory software.
A number of enterprise applications using cell phones are appearing:
■ Access control (ex. ticket validation at venues), inventory reporting (ex. tracking deliveries), asset tracking (ex. anti-counterfeiting).
ZXing Barcode Scanner, an Android platform application, is one example of a barcode reader that has been optimized to work with a cellphone camera. Big in Japan’s ShopSavvy and Occipital’s RedLaser, among others, are examples of barcode reader apps for the iPhone optimized to work with a cellphone camera. There are also a few other IPhone apps, the interesting among those is GTR Software’s Scan&Shop which basically integrates barcode scanner into Google shopping web site.