Barcode scanning with the new iPhone?

Posted April 22, 2009

Barcode scanning with the iPhone?

When iPhone 3.0 comes out later this year, we’ll see iPhone apps tied to special-purpose accessories.

Imagine a universal remote that lets you use your iPhone to control every box in your home-entertainment system. Or a portable RFID- and barcode-scanning module that turns your iPhone into a tiny store clerk — or comparison shopper — letting you find and buy stuff just by waving your phone at it.

These are just two suggestions from Wired.com readers for accessory-powered iPhone 3.0 applications — or, to use the term we coined, dongleware. We put up a call for suggestions, and you responded with loads of great ideas. We figured, what better way to give wannabe-millionaire developers ideas — and get what consumers want in return? Win-win.

iPhone 3.0 won’t be launching until summer, but developers can get plenty done in two or three months. To help speed up the process, here are your top-voted ideas in a nice and tidy list. Drum roll, please.

Barcode/RFID/Magnetic-Stripe Reader
This idea got the most votes — an accessory that acts as a barcode scanner and maybe triples as a magnetic-card and RFID tag reader.

Here’s how it could be useful: It would essentially turn the iPhone into a miniature checkout stand. The barcode scanner would register a product’s price, and then customers can simply swipe their credit card into the magnetic card reader. Similarly, the radio-frequency identifier would scan products containing RFID tags, such as library books, and send that information to the iPhone. In theory, the iPhone app transfers the data via the internet to complete the transaction.

Wouldn’t it be interesting (and a little weird) to see iPhones or iPod Touches at the checkout counter of every store?

This could also make a great tool for consumers to do on-the-fly comparison shopping while they browse brick-and-mortar stores.

Filed under: Consumer Barcoding
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