Blown To Bits

Geolocation+BarCode Scanning = Killer Cell Phone App?

Monday, September 29th, 2008 by Harry Lewis

In a piece we published in May, we noted:

[Geolocation] data would be a goldmine for advertisers targeting their ads at cell phones — they would love to know not only who you are, but where you are. And it would be a boon for shoppers, too — imagine being able to ask, when Nordstrom’s doesn’t have your favorite stockings in your size, if any nearby store has them in stock.

But to do that, you’d have to have enough information about what you were looking for to type in the identifying information, or else spend time Web browsing, a clumsy process on a cell phone. Not very realistic as we described it.

A Japanese company has an application for Google’s new phone that does something similar to what we had in mind, but much more practical and more widely useful. You see the stockings in the store, whip out your phone, and point the camera at the bar code on the package. The camera doesn’t actually photograph the bar code; it reads it, and then gives you back a list of nearby stores with the same item, and what they are charging for it.

Brilliant. If I were running a fancy department store with high ceilings and high overhead, I’d be shaking in my shoes at the prospect of people using my nice premises for shopping, and discount stores for buying.

More on retail applications of bar code scanning by cell phone in this article by Erik Hermansen.

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