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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.

Nokia launches beta of ‘Point & Find’ system for mobile phones, letting consumers scan images for search with their camera phone.

Posted April 3, 2009

Nokia has launched a beta of its new Point & Find system, which lets mobile phone users search for information on an object by looking at it with their handset camera.

While the service could eventually let consumers scan barcodes, at the moment Point & Find is focused on movies.

Philipp Schloter, Nokia’s general manager for Point & Find, explained: “Simply by pointing their camera phone at a poster for a new movie, people can watch the trailer, read reviews, and find the closest cinema where it is playing.”

Other uses suggested by Nokia include scanning barcodes for prices, looking at items for sale and being sent more details on where to shop or coupons, or eyeing objects in a museum and being sent multimedia information about it.

The open platform system uses the camera to look at images, GPS positioning to decide where it is, and the internet to search though a database of tagged objects. When an image is recognized, links to content – such as film times or prices – are sent back to the user.

Nokia doesn’t just want consumer feedback, but is looking to hear from businesses about their ideas for the tech – click here for the Point & Find business site. It’s already being used by the Body Worlds exhibition at the O2 in London, so pointing the camera of a Point & Find phone at related advertising should bring up data on the show.

The service can currently be downloaded in the US and the UK, on selected handsets. The phones supported by the current beta are the Nokia N82, N95, E66, N81, N76, E51, 6290, 6124 Classic, 6121 Classic, 6110 Navigator, and the 5700 Xpress Music.

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