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"Pull" Barcode Scanning Could Be Android's Killer App

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the be-a-frugal-gourmet dept.

Cellphones 296

Seor Jojoba writes "The release of T-Mobile's G1 Smartphone is shifting focus away from push-based barcode scanning, where embedded URLs send you to locations of a vendor's choosing. There is now more interest in pull-scanning, where product information is retrieved from user-specified sources. It may be that QR-Codes and other 2D barcodes will have their thunder stolen by 1970s-era linear barcodes. On the iPhone, scanning a 1D barcode is slow and unreliable. But the G1's improved optics and Android's improved access to image scans has made 1D scanning quick and useful, opening the gateway for killer apps that help people make spending decisions."

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Freedom is the killer app (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187883)

Let's just hope Google (and her telco partners) don't fuck it up.

Re:Freedom is the killer app (4, Insightful)

Tyger (126248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188359)

My bet is on the stores to screw it up. Most stores get edgy about you whipping out a camera in their store. Now use that camera to potentially lose them money and see them throw a big hissy fit.

Re:Freedom is the killer app (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188417)

You must go to different stores to me.

Besides which, who cares about this bar code scanning crap? What's important is that we have an open platform with some decent market penetration that an industry can grow up on.

Re:Freedom is the killer app (5, Insightful)

ijakings (982830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188419)

If a store trys to stop me whipping a camera out to compare prices ill just not shop there. If they dont stop me theres just a possibility I may not shop there. If they try to stop me using my own device they can fuck right off, even if they are the cheapest. ill just go to the next cheapest etc.

Pretty drunk so please dont mod me harshley for this mini rant

Re:Freedom is the killer app (4, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25189091)

Pricing isn't necessarily the killer app though.

it's reviews of products. There is a lot of stuff I see, and would buy at a store, but can't tell if it sucks or not.

Often times the instant gratification out-weighs the price savings of online. But rarely does it out-weigh the risk of crap.

I would probably spend more at retail stores with this device.

Re:Freedom is the killer app (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188483)

you're missing the point. even if google and her telco partners screw it up, you can still make a google g1 appstore app and a website and everytime people scan an item with the g1 they give a location and price, and in return they get a list of locations and prices near them.

even if google screws it up, anyone willing to becoem an android developer can fix it. except for 1 thing. the cost of using all the bandwidth this is going to take...

well, you don't have to send the photo, so what you send is a 10 digit number (actually 12 digits, 10 weren't enough) then a price (probably less than 10 digits, i don't think yachts come with barcodes) then a location, less than 2 120 character lines. to make it simple for users just have a postal code and a small name field. it would be nice if on starting the name of a place a 'suggestion' list showed up like with the google toolbar... so people can just click it and not need to remember everything...

so the amount of bandwidth is trivial, a few k to send, and a few k in the receive. maybe more if the product is available from hundreds of locations, perhaps you only send the first 4 and a 'more' button and have 'by price' 'by location' search optimizations...

a little bit of coding work, it's not rocket science the hard part is getting local people to put the data in to get people to start using it... if you're starting off with 1 city, you can go around to supermarkets and do it yourself while beta testing the app..

smells like a polecat (4, Informative)

sohp (22984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187911)

Or a CueCat [wikipedia.org] . We know how big of a killer app.

Re:smells like a polecat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25187943)

Or a CueCat [wikipedia.org] . We know how big of a killer app.

Those things feel very good up the ass.

Re:smells like a polecat (5, Insightful)

Seor Jojoba (519752) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187965)

Well, this time, you will not have to carry around a plastic toy cat with you and look like a damn fool. That could make all the difference, you know.

Re:smells like a polecat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188457)

You forgot the computer the CueCat also required.

Re:smells like a polecat (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187987)

This one is portable, and also makes phone calls and surfs the Web on its own (you don't need to lug things back to your desk). And it'll work off regular UPCs.

Re:smells like a polecat (2, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188057)

The 1990s called. They want their technology back.

Re:smells like a polecat (4, Interesting)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188189)

Yeah, what a great idea that was. Let's give away scanners, and then people can scan a barcode and be taken to a website, so its ad supported. Problem was, to get that barcode, you pretty much had to own the item, at which time, you were like, um, what is the point of researching the item AFTER you buy it. Kind of a gimick.

Sadly, the CueCat did have a very practical application that I used it for, but I had to hack it first. There is a program out there called CatNip that will let you use the CueCat as a standard light pen. When combined with a a databasing program for media such as those from CollectorZ, which refrences your material to stuff it pulls off the internet, you suddenly have a very cool product. I can now scan a UPC symbol on a movie, it pulls the description off of IMDB and cover art from Amazon or DVDEmpire or one of the dozens of other DVD sites out there, and makes a nice list. I can then specify where the movie is located, and even check movies out to my friends, and know where they all are through this cool app. I can then publish the whole list to html and upload it to a site, so now all my friends can see what movies I have.

So, yes, the CueCat was very cool and useful and I still use mine. Problem is, I found absolutely ZERO value in what they were actually trying to use it for.

Re:smells like a polecat (4, Insightful)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188271)

So, yes, the CueCat was very cool and useful and I still use mine. Problem is, I found absolutely ZERO value in what they were actually trying to use it for.

And therein lies the tale of why Android just might have a chance -- IIRC, CueCat did their best to stop people from using it in ways other than what it was sold for. They sued some people, IIRC, tried to obfuscate the data format, had a unique key from each cuecat sent back with the rest of the data for tracking individual cuecats, and generally acted like dickheads and thus went under.

Re:smells like a polecat (4, Informative)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188287)

Yeah, what a great idea that was. Let's give away scanners, and then people can scan a barcode and be taken to a website, so its ad supported. Problem was, to get that barcode, you pretty much had to own the item, at which time, you were like, um, what is the point of researching the item AFTER you buy it. Kind of a gimick.

You missed the point. Cuecats were given away with Radio Shack catalogs, which included the bar code for almost every item listed. In a way, it acted as a bridge between old mail-order (catalogs) and e-commerce. They were never intended to be used with anything else (even already purchased items, as they wouldn't read standard barcodes), and I think that there were even some takedown notices regarding the various hacks, at first.

Re:smells like a polecat (3, Funny)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188333)

You missed the point. Cuecats were given away with Radio Shack catalogs, which included the bar code for almost every item listed.

Mine came with my Wired subscription...

Re:smells like a polecat (1)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188349)

In my world it's called Delicious Library [delicious-monster.com] .

Re:smells like a polecat (1)

chrisd (1457) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188927)

This isn't like that at all....the phone can read bar codes, which is nice, it isn't some grand marketing initiative with tie-ins with Wired and all that. But I can see people replacing the old bulky symbol style handhelds for something like this.

Oh, god, no. (4, Insightful)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187915)

If this takes off, it'll result with me waiting in the supermarket checkout line for 5 minutes behind some idiot arguing with the cashier because his phone says a different price to the register. As if phones in supermarkets haven't caused me enough grief...

Re:Oh, god, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25187951)

If this takes off, it'll result with me waiting in the supermarket checkout line for 5 minutes behind some idiot arguing with the cashier because his phone says a different price to the register. As if phones in supermarkets haven't caused me enough grief...

And imagine how it'll be in 40 years or so, when old people have these...

Re:Oh, god, no. (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188035)

Today go down to my local grocery store scan and bag things as I go, a quick swipe or wave of a rfid CC on the way out.

Today I can order my grocery's online, and have them delivered to a cooler on my back porch so they are just there when I get home.

These are just two of the things I can do today I would home in 40 years I would hope a robotic car can deliver it and put it away in my house.

Re:Oh, god, no. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188169)

...in 40 years I would hope a robotic car can deliver it and put it away in my house.

That's right robo-grocer! Put those groceries away! If anyone needs me, I'll be in the holodeck doing a virtual 3-way with "v-teens gone wild".

Re:Oh, god, no. (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188489)

40 years ago you could do that, too. You just had to use the phone instead of a computer. What's more, many more people had a subscription to milk.

Of course, there's a reason the job of "grocery deliverer" was something people would actually consider...

Re:Oh, god, no. (2, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188135)

Well if your Android phone ALSO has a tazer built in, you could taze that guy and then you'd be the hero of the supermarket! All hail open source!

Re:Oh, god, no. (0, Offtopic)

king-hobo (1303923) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188523)

WHAT

you got marked as flame bait, its times like this you wish you had mod points

Re:Oh, god, no. (2, Informative)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188825)

Only in Europe. In the US the barcode doesn't carry price information.

Goatse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25187929)

Goatse. [goatse.cz]

Not like it isn't your other 50 tabs.

Look at how succesful CueCat was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25187931)

Oh wait, it wasn't.

iPhone killer? Really? YES! (5, Insightful)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187961)

This is spot-on. Yes, many years ago there was an attempt to invest heavily in barcode readers - the Cuecat, in particular, was a well-funded attempt to bring barcodes to the masses. But due to a major error in their business model - a grave error - the 'cat lived an extremely short life.

Jump ahead to 2008. People are buying fancy telephones, and there are barcodes everywhere. Google is in a unique position to read and process these barcodes on the fly - using a well-connected application living on a mobile phone. Next thing you know, you'll be able to go to the store, pick up a six pack of Bud, and scan in that barcode. THEN you can find a cheaper vendor - maybe down the street. YOU WIN due to CHEAPER BEER.

And we know that the world, with its flailing economy, will certainly needs cheaper beer. The cuecat was just ahead of its time.

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (1)

i_liek_turtles (1110703) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188015)

Any money you save will be eaten by the cost of gas...

Anyway, who needs beer when you can make your own moonshine?

(Poster not responsible for blindness)

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188181)

Sterno [wikipedia.org] -- the drink of choice for the discerning hobo.

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188301)

Buy some beer, keep the barcode, and scan whenever you need more beer.

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (-1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188137)

Next thing you know, you'll be able to go to the store, pick up a six pack of Bud, and scan in that barcode. THEN you can find a cheaper vendor - maybe down the street. YOU WIN due to CHEAPER BEER.

Not likely. From the summary:

where embedded URLs send you to locations of a vendor's choosing

Do you think a vendor is going to undercut their distributor by directing you to a cheaper source? I don't think so.

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188201)

If you read the WHOLE summary, it says that "focus is shifting away from" URL's of the vendor's choosing, to precisely the situation the person you doubting described, which is URL's chosen to best benefit the consumer.

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (3, Informative)

antoy (665494) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188209)

Finish reading the summary, please. That's a description of push-scanning, while Android and Google can provide pull-scanning.

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188765)

Finish reading the summary, please. That's a description of push-scanning, while Android and Google can provide pull-scanning.

I think you must have PUSH and PULL reversed. From the article:

In a nutshell, here's how [the PULL model] ShopSavvy works:

      1. You scan a product's UPC code. It could even be a sandwich, I suppose, if it was the pre-packaged kind.
      2. A list of places offering the product are shown, complete with prices and reviews.

With the "pull" model, you are getting information about products from wherever you choose.

Exactly the same model the grandparent post described.

You may not like barcodes, but if you attack the idea, you should at least know the terminology.

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (1)

ConanG (699649) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188247)

That's the push model. Embedded URLs are in 2D barcodes. 1D barcodes just list the manufacturer and product.

Android uses the pull model.

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188479)

1D barcodes just list the manufacturer and product.

Which gets you what? Manufacturers and retailers have been dragging their heels on providing customers the ability to pull competitive price data over the 'Net. With the advent of loyalty card programs, there's now a retail price for the non member, a posted member price and an even lower price depending on who you are, what you spend, what your zip code is. Maybe even your credit report data. Only the sucker prices are advertised anymore.

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (1)

Ost99 (101831) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188289)

If you'd bothered to read it all, he explains that it's NOT what the Android app does. This is how regular 2D push barcodes work.

Re:iPhone killer? Really? YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188787)

lol -1 retarded.

iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera? (0, Flamebait)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25187973)

" On the iPhone, scanning a 1D barcode is slow and unreliable. But the G1's improved optics and Android's improved access to image scans has made 1D scanning quick and useful,"

[citation needed]. 2 megapixel is more than enough to scan a 2D barcode, and the iPhones optics are quite reasonable. If the iPhone scanning is actually "slow and unreliable" (I have no evidence of this) it's simply because of the algorithm that the third party developer is using.

For what it's worth, though, the iPhone has 7 scanners on the App Store when you search for "barcode" and all seem to revolve around one kind of 2D bar code or another (EZcode, DataMatrix, QR Code, ShotCode, Blotcode, etc). The reviews seem to indicate the iPhone is quite good at scanning them.

Basically, the article submitter appears to be another anti-iPhone troll, which is too bad because for me it detracts from his main point about bar code ubiquity.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188027)

Fanatics are so fun to mess with, the moment you downplay something, even slightly, they will jump on it and try to jump around it to falsify and even rationalize around it.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (0, Flamebait)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188051)

Yeah, but at least he has one thing right:

The !phone sucks.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188071)

Enjoy your negative karma.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (4, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188547)

Oh baby, don't be so negative.

I'm karmkarmakarmakarmkarmachemeleon...

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188081)

"On the iPhone, scanning a 1D barcode is slow and unreliable."

True. Some examples of 1D barcodes.

-

---------

----

--------

The question is, can your scanner tell the difference between barcodes 2 and 4? That's the problem we are currently facing.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188269)

Interesting, but I think the real problem is that a 1 dimensional barcode is impossible for anything to see.

"Linear" barcode I can handle, but they still have 2 dimensions. Likewise a 2D barcode should probably be called quadratic. Then just call them L2D and Q2D Barcodes or something.

Just bitching, so ignore me.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (1)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188739)

The question is, can your camera focus well enough to see as fine lines as bar codes use.

The pixel size used in 3D codes is simply larger by comparison.

Bar code lines are the same length, which merely has to be wide enough to make a linear scan cross the code easily.

I believe the US Postal service uses a varying length code for mail routing.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188125)

Huh? The sentence you quoted is about scanning 1D barcodes, and you say the iPhone can handle 2D barcodes. Guess what? The point was that 1D barcodes are harder to scan than 2D barcodes (RTFA). 2D barcodes were designed precisely for lower-resolution cameras, but the downside is that most products still have only 1D barcodes. The G1 has a higher-resolution camera (3 megapixels vs 2) and can handle them better.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (2, Informative)

William Ager (1157031) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188143)

There's a fair bit of a difference between optics and sensor pixel count... 2 Megapixel tells me almost nothing about actual image quality. Other details are more important here, especially because barcode scanning requires very different features, like the ability to focus on nearby objects, that many phone cameras lack, regardless of the sensor.

Also, while you are speaking of 2D barcodes, 1D barcodes are a very different matter. 2D barcodes work well with camera-based sensors, and are often designed to work well with phones. 1D barcodes are far harder to read with camera phones, and I expect that the iPhone, like every other phone I've tried, is unable to do so well. 1D barcodes require far higher resolution of thin parallel lines, and weren't designed to be scanned by camera; they also tend to need to be in focus. Unfortunately, these are far more prevalent than the 2D barcodes that are easy to read.

That said, I'm doubtful that the G1 will be able to read 1D barcodes well either, unless the optics have been designed to facilitate it. Better optics doesn't imply that the optics are better for such a special case.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188243)

There is an app (Delicious Library or something) for OS X that reads 1D bar codes with the built-in iSight camera. This does 640x480 and has pretty cheap optics (much worse quality pictures than my cheap camera phone in low-light conditions). In spite of this, it is very accurate at reading bar codes. I tried the demo, and it correctly read things even when I held them at strange angles.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (2, Informative)

kesuki (321456) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188965)

webcams are different from fixed focal length cameras.

most fixed focal length cameras are set to infinity. that means if you take a close range picture it's all blurry, beyond the ability of fast recognition. if the camera has higher resolution, the less the blur affects the recognition by software.

most webcams are set to a focal length of a few feet, or come with auto focus, or manual focus..

so a webcam can be lower res and have better image recognition, oh yeah and a laptop has a lot more processing power than a phone. that makes a huge speed difference.

also with higher resolution you can take the picture farther away, and still have enough pixels, it is true there are scanner apps for the iphone, but most likely they have compromised between speed and ability to read blurred photos.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188313)

The zxing library can read about any 1D barcode in a matter of seconds, at least on the G1, if there is sufficient light.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188155)

I really fail to see what you are trying to say here.

Unless I misunderstand, you are claiming the submitter is a troll for claiming the iPhone has trouble reading 1D barcodes because it can read 2D barcodes?

Are you aware that a 1D barcode is the kind of barcode you find in a supermarket while a 2D barcode has been engineered to be easy to read in noisy pictures using poor cameras?

I don't have any trouble believing that an ordinary cameraphone will have trouble counting the zillions of tiny parallel lines in a standard 1D barcode.

I find it sickening that you have been moderated up for a baseless attack on the article submitter.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (1)

suricatta (617778) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188393)

Spot on. My 2 MP phone has frequent problems resolving both 1d and 2d barcodes. Not due to lack of resolving power or resolution, mind you, but becuase of the camera's focus, or should I say, it's lack thereof. Anything that small just comes up blurry, regardless of lighting conditions or focal distance.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188185)

Have you even used one of those apps? Of all the 2D barcode scanners not one is rated more than 2 stars. Ive tried lots of them and none is as reliable as the Zebra Crossing app available for Android.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (5, Informative)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188337)

The submitter is quite right. I have an iPhone, and the biggest challenge with doing as the camera suggests (a coworker of mine had the same idea) is that it uses a fixed-focus lens, set to 'infinity', which means that it cannot focus on near objects - so the barcode has to be far enough that it's within the focal range, but big enough that it can be seen from there.

Re:iPhone slow and unreliable because of 2M camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188377)

Why are you talking about 2D barcodes when even in your quote it talks about 1D barcodes. You physically had to copy and paste that text yet you still completely missed the whole point of what you're talking about.

Yet another apple fanboi foaming at the mouth for no reason. What idiots.

Useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188037)

I think this would be a very useful item. I know that the whole barcode thing is a little played out, but add in the wireless network and you have a way of comparison shopping.

Simple number recgonition would work too (2, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188099)

I have bar code scanning on my latest phone. It doesn't work. The camera just keeps going in and out of focus. Having never had much to do with barcodes in my IT work, I decided to look at open source bar code readers and scanned in the bar codes on a few things (like my son's birth certificate). I looked and the standards and my own scans quickly found that often the number was often printed right beneath the barcode. Barcodes were made when computers were slow and had trouble doing OCR. They're a lot better now. Bar code scanning is still useful to some degree but to call it a killer app is a bit much.

Already in Japan and seems to be working (2, Interesting)

Alpha-Toxic (1236606) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188111)

I used to work for a big (biggest?) developer of games for mobile phones and I think we used to sell games in Japan using some sort of barcodes (with squares). We would put game ads in magazines and the user would just scan the barcode with the phone and buy the game. So this is nothing new or that difficult to do, it just hasn't caught up in the west yet. Hmmm, so I just checked and it seems that those were the QR-codes that the article talks about. I never bothered to check before as we were just making the games...

Re:Already in Japan and seems to be working (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188607)

If you checked and discovered that your comments were irrelevent before you posted, why on god's green earth did you then go and click 'submit'. The correct choice would have been your browser's "back" button ...

Scan bar code? (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188113)

I did not realize that either phone had a bar code scanner, which means that this must mean the user has to a picture of the bar code.

I just did an experiment and indeed the phone does not seem to be able to take a reliable picture of a bar code. I don't think it has to do with resolution as much as the crappy lens inherent in cell phone cameras along with the the fact that cell phone cameras were not made for macro photography, a tricky proposition even with a real cameras. To take back the resolution thing, a higher resolution may let the software extract the bar from a normal, non macro, photo.

So here are my two questions. First, is the lens on the G1 that much better? Second, Isn't this fundamentally a software problem. A bar code is a defined form with a known and rigid structure. Even with a blurry/fuzzy photograph, it should be possible to clean up the bars. For that matter, why are we even dealing with bars. The numbers are there under the bars. Why not use those?

In any case, how many people use this application? This is the first I heard of it. I certainly don't go around taking pictures of bar codes. The only time I thought about doing it was for my library, but a scanner seems like a faster solution.

Re:Scan bar code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188455)

The G1 has auto focus and is capable of taking very sharp pictures at about 3 inches.

Re:Scan bar code? (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25189089)

Second, Isn't this fundamentally a software problem. A bar code is a defined form with a known and rigid structure. Even with a blurry/fuzzy photograph, it should be possible to clean up the bars. For that matter, why are we even dealing with bars. The numbers are there under the bars. Why not use those?

I thought the same thing. Try to OCR the numbers and then regenerate the barcode and compare it to the picture for verification. But I doubt that all the barcode scanner app programmers have missed something that you and I thought of in a matter of minutes so I can only assume that either they already do this or that it doesn't work well for one reason or another (e.g. computational cost, or maybe if the barcode is too blurry to figure out then the numbers are useless too).

Re:Scan bar code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25189133)

I've played with the app (I work for an OHA partner). The early version just scanned the barcode (reading a single stripe out of an image is a lot easier than try to OCR the numbers).

Once the UPC number is decoded, it just opens up a browser and looks up that UPC. It usually finds reviews and articles about that item.

I'm sure a more advanced app can do price checks, etc, but for doing simple product reviews it was a fun little app.

Killer App? (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188139)

Are we seriously considering a bar code scanner a "kiler app"? To me, a killer app is one which makes you absolutely want it, even if it means making a different hardware decision. You know, like how Halo is a killer app for XBox. A barcode scanner might be neat or even nifty and, to some rare individuals, it might be an absolutely killer app, but for the majority of people I see it being nothing more than a novelty app - something that's cool to have and you use from time to time but, most of the time, you forget you even have it.

Then again, maybe the poster is using "killer app" in a different way than I would...

Killer app in a warehouse (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188223)

A barcode scanner might be neat or even nifty and, to some rare individuals, it might be an absolutely killer app, but for the majority of people I see it being nothing more than a novelty app - something that's cool to have and you use from time to time but, most of the time, you forget you even have it.

Then again, maybe the poster is using "killer app" in a different way than I would...

That or the poster has worked in a warehouse. I've worked in one that's completely barcode-driven.

Re:Killer App? OT but still (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188367)

... for me the killer app of the only-available Android phone is the keyboard, as I don't like touchscreens (I prefer to type than touch a flat surface as I can more easily do it without looking), and also the promise of a full bluetooth implementation and an uncensored marketplace

I suspect 'killer app' is always going to be a subjective & personal interpretation. It's not a good way describe a feature.

Re:Killer App? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188403)

I think this is a great item for price comparison.

Say you're buying an HD TV or something big. You snap a picture of the barcode and it pulls down a list of places which have it cheaper. If you can't see what's so killer about that then maybe you should go back to your xbox and let the adults talk.

PS: I hope you've finished your homework, school day tomorrow.

Re:Killer App? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188727)

I find out which store has it cheaper before I go to the store.

Re:Killer App? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188653)

If well dont have to be specific for the Android (probably most cellphones with camera could work this way if had enough cpu power to spare), IS some sort of "killer app".

Converting images to "data" (reading barcodes is not the only application, but maybe one of the easiest ones... OCRs, face recognition and others could work the same way) is another way to link the real world you are with the virtual one. You take that data, and search for it where is relevant, knowing more about products (books, CDs, food, whatever) you are looking at. Is not the end of the road, but a step in the right direction.

Android have several paths to link virtual and real world. Another "killer app" is integrating GPSs, with a bigger potential. The integration with maps following where you move to is another good example (as does Enkin [enkin.net] ). Your cellphone starts to be more than your connection with the phone system, your connection with the world. Will all of this be what makes a difference between Android and everything else? Dont think so, as most of the hardware used is in most modern cellphones, so it could be ported. But will help to raise the bar on what is expected on that kind of devices.

A bit illogical... (4, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188163)

Ok... TFA pushes the idea for what would essentially be a product database.
You scan the bar-code, it gets sent to the server, which returns useful data to you.
OK... I can see how that should be useful to consumers as well as a hypothetical company that makes its living out of contextual commercials.

BUT... The TFA goes on and on about how it MUST be 1D barcodes and NOT 2D barcodes - despite the fact that 2D barcodes are easier to read for mobile phones because of redundancy and greater bandwidth.
And since The New PhoneTM has the optics that can FINALLY read 1D barcodes - let us make a database that handles ONLY 1D barcodes.
Cause... there is like a lot of them out there.

Hmm... how about this GROUND BREAKING idea I just had.
Make the "killer app" capable of reading both 1D AAAND... wait for it... 2D barcodes.
HA?! Isn't THAT fuckin' brilliant or what?
At the cost of... umm... nothing... you get a "killer app" that works on The New PhoneTM AND all those phones out there already.
Which it would be pretty stupid to just disregard.
Cause... there is like a lot of them out there.

Re:A bit illogical... (2, Insightful)

Ost99 (101831) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188261)

The whole point of using 1D barcodes is that they are EVERYWHERE. Every packaged item sold anywhere has a UNIQUE 1D barcode. Makes it a bit easier to build a DB from don't you think?

Re:A bit illogical... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188515)

The whole point of my post is that it is pointless to build a database to 100% of data that can be accessed by only a limited percent of phone users - because it is based on only one kind of input.

Make it a 1D and 2D barcode database and you still have your 100% of data - AND a greater potential user base.
PLUS you get the producers of all those products out there to start competing for not just only that small fraction of consumers that MAYBE have a compatible phone and that MAYBE buy and use their products - but ALL of the consumers with a camera phone (which is about 99.9% now) that buy and use their or similar products.

Product A has a 1D barcode, product B has both 1D and 2D barcodes.
Along comes a user X that has a 99% chance of having a camera phone that can read 2D barcodes, but only 1-5% chance that it can read both 1D and 2D barcodes.

Which product has a better chance of relaying positive information about itself to the user X?

Re:A bit illogical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188365)

BUT... The TFA goes on and on about how it MUST be 1D barcodes and NOT 2D barcodes - despite the fact that 2D barcodes are easier to read for mobile phones because of redundancy and greater bandwidth.

TFA doesn't say it MUST be 1D barcodes, just that there are 1D barcodes on everything you see on store shelves.

I imagine they'd be just as happy scanning 2D barcodes, but where was the last place you saw a 2D barcode that wasn't on a package or an ID card?

TFA says EXACTLY THAT (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188553)

If these billions of products were instead marked up with 2D barcodes that provided the same unique identifier, that would be an even better situation, because the crummy cams on current mobile devices would have more success reading them. However, 2D barcodes aren't planned to be used that way. Instead, they're intended to push promotions and other vendor-supplied content at consumers. If you want to benefit from the "pull" model, your phone has to read Ye Olde Barcode from the 1970's.

Just because you can put a URL in a 2D barcode, that does not mean you can't put a simple text code there instead.

Re:A bit illogical... (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188391)

You're the illogical one. The point of TFA is that almost all products have old fashioned 1D barcdoes abd very few have the new 2D barcodes. What benefit is to be gained from adding 2D capability when so few 2D barcodes exist?

Furthermore, 2D barcodes encode info that the app in question (GoCart/ShopSavvy) doesn't use. The app uses that barcode to look up dynamic info, such as prices and availability on the web and locally (based on your current location from the GPS), and user reviews. You can't put dynamic or user content in a 2D code, only what the manufacturer wanted you to know when the product was packaged -- the best you can do is a URL to a site controlled by the manufacturer, which may or may not still exist.

Re:A bit illogical... (1)

salmonmoose (1147735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188617)

Adding 2D support is nearly free. There is no reason not to add 2D support so those with 'lesser' phones can get info on SOME products. It's still a unique identifier for the product. Heck, a savvy developer would allow users to just key in the barcode by hand and do a search.

Re:A bit illogical... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188697)

What benefit is to be gained from adding 2D capability when so few 2D barcodes exist?

Yeah... What benefit is there to create asphalt covered roads and rubber tires when everyone out there still uses horses?

No... wait... bad analogy.
Adding another input to the database costs nothing. Roads and tires cost money.

You can't put dynamic or user content in a 2D code

And you can in a 1D code?

the best you can do is a URL to a site controlled by the manufacturer, which may or may not still exist.

No.
You can put up to 2,335 characters in a single data matrix code.
You can have the entire 1D code, plus the link to the site, plus the promotional message, plus etc. etc.

And it costs nothing to implement. While at the same time it promotes competition among the manufacturers of the products.
Will everyone with a camera phone be able to read that "killer app" database and buy YOUR product cause it is cheaper or better or will only 1% of people with new phones who may or may not be in a market for your product be able to connect to the "killer app's" database?

Re:A bit illogical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188431)

1D barcodes are used in stores on all your products. That's why this is so awesome, you can now scan products and get a google map pop up to the store down the street where the product is 50% off.

Re:A bit illogical... (1)

ConanG (699649) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188461)

Maybe because there are multiple 2D barcode formats out there competing for shelf space, almost all of are proprietary and licensed, and 1D barcodes are universal and free?

Re:A bit illogical... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188757)

Yes, there are more than one standard. Again... 1 database input is a folly.
2, 3, 4, 5... 50 inputs... price of implementation is still 0.

As for licensing...
All codes listed here (including data matrix) are either in public domain or free to use.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datamatrix#See_also [wikipedia.org]

Re:A bit illogical... (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188783)

It doesn't have as much to do with the barcode as it does the business model. The "push" model is where vendor put special 2D barcode on products that are specially designed to be scanned by phones. The "pull" model is to use whatever barcode is already on the product and gather information about it. Push usually implements 2D barcodes to get more data in it, pull uses the existing barcodes, and most of those are 1D. So it really must be 1D, because almost nothing has 2D barcodes.

As a consumer, I don't want to read the 2D barcode. That barcode is in the vendor's interest and will likely be very difficult to correlate with products from competing vendors or to find availablility from multiple sources to price shop. All I need is the UPC. Even that needs some massaging because some stores ask the vendor to put special UPCs on their products.

Re:A bit illogical... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188925)

As a consumer, I don't want to read the 2D barcode. That barcode is in the vendor's interest and will likely be very difficult to correlate with products from competing vendors or to find availablility from multiple sources to price shop. All I need is the UPC. Even that needs some massaging because some stores ask the vendor to put special UPCs on their products.

And info relayed to you by google will most certainly not be in vendor's/manufacturer's interest?
Cause... god forbid that google might peddle adds for products and services, right?

All I need is the UPC.

The world needs more. That is why EAN exists.

More room for data (which 2D barcode has) means more opportunity.
Manufacturers can keep their "personal interest data" and include the 1D data needed for the "killer app" database.
But... if there is such a killer app database out there - "personal interest data" soon becomes useless.
Cause who are you going to trust?

Nike, Pepsi and SONY or the magical app by company that does no evil?
They still do no evil, right?

ZOMG I quit and now WANT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188321)

I quit working on the VNC for android phones cuz I didn't have a phone network expert any more.

Now... they have exactly another product I wanted??? LOLZ... scan, SOLD! lolz.

Already in Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188401)

I feel like we're getting too excited about something that's already completely ubiquitous in Japanese cell phones.

It seems hardly a killer app if it's already taken for granted on the other side of the world. Am I missing something? Is this somehow different than the Japanese cell phone 2d barcodes?

Re:Already in Japan (1)

MahJongKong (883108) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188715)

Yeah these 2D barcodes are everywhere in Japan but as TFA explained they are usually just an URL. Here is what is possible with 1D scanning: http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=978975&cid=25188403 [slashdot.org] http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=978975&cid=25188515 [slashdot.org]

Interesting. (4, Interesting)

zullnero (833754) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188413)

I got my start doing stuff like this on the PalmOS Symbol handheld scanners back in 1999. I've done this same stuff for years on various handhelds running mobile OS's. As long as you can scan a freaking barcode, you can store that info and hit that website when you sync...whether it's through a wired connection, a wireless connection, it doesn't matter.

You can reinvent something 10 years later that people have done for years, and now it is a "killer app". If Google does it, apparently, idiots pay attention and it is suddenly, somehow, feasible and marketable.

Re:Interesting. (1)

1310nm (687270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188621)

Hopefully this gets off the ground before retailers, which obviously do not want in-store competition, find a way to kill it.

Re:Interesting. (1)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188781)

I remember those Symbol devices, and they had a dedicated laser scanner that could reliably scan a bar code from a good distance while held at various angles. In other words, they were rather expensive, specialized devices. Now, of course, every phone has a camera, and some clever software makes the camera work as reliably as those old laser scanners? That does sound like something new.

idiots make money (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25189069)

>apparently, idiots pay attention and it is >suddenly, somehow, feasible and marketable.

Idiots pay attention when innovations like touchscreen phones and mp3 players flounder and someone finds a way to market it to them later.

Idiots dont know if some idea is new or 10 years old. They wait for marketing department to tell them what they want.

Remember when they were telling idiots that you needed 40, 80, 160GB music players.
Then they told you that you only needed 4, 8 and 16GB...?
Idiots believe a lot of things because idiots want to believe.

Re:Interesting. (1)

MahJongKong (883108) | more than 5 years ago | (#25189137)

But now you can have a small webpage downloaded to your phone immediately, that's the whole point: it was too early in the 90s.

is this serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188817)

if this is a killer app my dick just fell off.

the iPhone failed because it had no killer app at launch, so will the android phones.

slashtwats... that was sacarsm.

In Redmond Another Chair Lost to Ballmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188901)

Barcode scanners are the killer app? Wow, who knew? Someone better tell Steve Ballmer so that he can throw yet more chairs at Microsoft engineers for overlooking this game changing technology.

Then watch for "Store Shelf Explorer" to appear on a Windows Smartphone near you.

Can't Imagine why Consumers Need This (1)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188911)

I'm trying, really, to imagine why I'd want this on my phone.

If I'm at Best Buy, and I scan a DVD and it comes up $2 cheaper at Wal*Mart down the street, I still don't think put up with driving, parking, and all that hassle just to save a few bucks. Now, if it were 35% or 50% higher, then sure, but that rarely ever happens in the retail environment.

And if it found it $2 cheaper on Amazon.com, then that's great. That at least gives me the choice... buy it now for $15 or get it in a couple days for $13. But I already knew that Amazon.com would be cheaper before I even walked in, so this is moot.

About the only useful application I see here is if the retail store is just hoping to get "lucky" by charging me a super-high markup on something that I'd be better off getting somewhere else. When this happens, I can usually tell I'm being gouged when I see the price. I don't need a CueCat-like device to tell me that.

That all being said, having bar-code reading integrated into employees cell phone can do a lot in the business world. If these APIs are easily tied into, I could see a whole set of custom apps for document/product tracking, inventory, etc.

Re:Can't Imagine why Consumers Need This (1)

perlchild (582235) | more than 5 years ago | (#25189099)

I was thinking the same thing about inventory. Bunch of hp servers coming with barcodes for serial numbers especially.

Google Android Developer Challenge Winner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25188933)

Google must see a future in bar-codes too. They are great for getting information for BUYING things and a lot of Google's future business will probably be mobile marketing and sales.

One of the $275K winners of the Android challenge was Compare Everywhere which uses a scanned barcode to find an item locally for sale. The idea is that you scan something like a book or a disc that you can then compare prices.

So if that cute girl at the office plays some music for you and you want a copy, scan hers and compare local prices (so you can buy a legitimate copy rather than rip hers). Then the app will give you directions to the store.

meh, i'm still waiting for teledildonics (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188985)

i want to be able to call my girlfriend and well, give her a buzz

i mean this thing is called android afer all, right?

comments from someone who has used it (5, Informative)

rbrome (175029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25188993)

I was at the T-Mobile/Google launch event last week in NYC, and had a chance to try this. I also have an iPhone.

First, this is not a Google-made app, it's called ShopSavvy and it's from a third party. It will come preloaded on the T-Mobile G1, though.

It's neat. It's very easy to use and returns simple links to product reviews and prices from multiple online sources.

vs. the iPhone:

Barcodes on the iPhone are NOT slow. They ARE unreliable, because the iPhone has a fixed lens that simply cannot focus on something up close.

The G1's "improved optics" is an auto-focus lens that can focus on things up close. That's why this works. It's very slow, though.

"Improved access to image scans" is bullshit. It's the same in Android as the iPhone or any smartphone, at least for something like barcodes.

MANY smartphones have a high-res camera with auto-focus lens and can run third-party software like this (which has existed for a while). It's nothing new. It's only in the news now because Google chose to feature it during their press conference and demo session at the event in NYC last week.

Also, the whole 1D vs 2D thing is beside the point. 1D is the type that's printed on all products at any SHOP, so of course it's the type that a SHOPPING application is designed to scan.

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