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October 27, 2003

Camera phones as bar-code scanners

Sean Neville writes about an interesting camera phone application - the idea is to take a snapshot of the barcode, perform OCR on the image to extract the UPC, do a query on Amazon/Froogle and return product info and pricing.

In the category of interesting possibilities that open up at the intersection of technology trends/developments: in this case (1) ubiquitous wireless data access, (2) networked cameras, (3) OCR, (4) Amazon web services. As Neville eloquently puts it, this is about using a camera phone as a bar code scanner "to transform all physical goods into mere floor demos." Also file this under the category of innovative instances of technology reuse.

Elsewhere there was an interesting discussion a while back re: "the digital camera as a data-gathering device":

Because digital photography is so damn convenient, image capture becomes convenient for a variety [of] recording activities that hitherto were simply too clumsy to do with [a] film-based camera.

Update (11/6):

According to their press release, NeoMedia have combined one winning technology: Amazon's Associate program (which lets business access the Amazon catalog database), and one failed technology: the CueCat (where bar codes in advertisements would lead people to websites) into one interesting m-commerce application.

The shopper works by using your cameraphone to take a picture of a book's ISBN number (by using the bar code). Then using a proprietary application, the picture is sent to NeoMedia, who will use the bar code to determine the ISBN number and send you Amazon's price for that book. No mention is made of whether you will be able to purchase the book from your handset.

Via TheFeature.com and Smart Mobs.

Posted by Narasimha Chari at 01:24 PM in communications, innovation, ventures, Web/Tech | Permalink

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