Monday, April 10, 2006

Red Herring: Cameraphone as Store Scanner

A startup in New York City hopes to teach mobile subscribers to do more than take photos with their camera phones.April 3, 2006 Print Issue
The cell phone has evolved into many things: television, web browser, MP3 player, video camera. Now, add barcode scanner to the list.

Olivier Attia, the founder and CEO of ScanBuy, imagines a future in which shoppers will use camera phones to snap a photo of a barcode and retrieve a mother lode of product information—from alerts for people with food allergies to special offers and short previews of DVDs or CDs that they can then buy.

Turning mobile camera phones into barcode scanners in the palms of consumers is hardly a no-brainer. It’s easy to imagine faster technologies, such as RFID scanners in phones, supplanting ScanBuy’s innovation, which relies on a steady hand and a focused lens. But ScanBuy does have an advantage. The New York City-based company is zeroing in on markets like the United States and Latin America, places where mobile phones are used for little more than voice and text. It’s an open field.

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