A couple of days ago, someone asked me what I considered at the time to be a very strange question. “Is there a some kind of barcode scanner that you can use with a cell phone to scan products in a store and shop online for better prices?”
I don’t know why I thought it was so strange. Perhaps it was just because I had never thought of using the technology that way. Well, how did we ever get along without the magic of the glorious Interweb? While Googling for “iphone scan barcode” I came across a number of interesting posts. In short, yes there is a way to do this, and it doesn’t require an add-on barcode scanner. (However, an iPhone demo uses a special case that incorporates a built-in close-up lens that slides over the iPhone’s built-in camera. Using Snappr.net for the iPhone or Shop Savvy for the G1, users can scan a product barcode in a store, then do some comparison shopping online. Links of interest are listed below.
How To Track Music, Scan Bar Codes On A Cell Phone – Story from NPR
T-Mobile’s G1 Takes Shopping To 2.0 – includes YouTube video demo of Shop Savvy
Snappr.net – Snappr project home page
Snappr Mobi – online price lookups from Snappr’s service
Griffin Clarifi – iPhone case with built-in close-up lens
Pretty cool ideas. Now I’m wondering how this kind of technology can be used in the library. If the software can translate the camera’s image into a string of characters usable in a web search, it should also be able to write those characters to file. If it can write the characters to a file, then you can store the barcodes. If you can store the barcodes, then you should be able to use this file with the ILS’s inventory module. A bit of a jump perhaps, but it sounds feasible.