Everybody’s favourite mobile barcode service (so it seems, sometimes) has a major update today. Big In Japan, creators of the ShopSavvy barcode reading app, has two big announcements. First, it is expanding the variety of barcodes ShopSavvy reads to include the massively popular 2D QR Code. More interestingly, it is also introducing a new Augmented Reality (AR) service to the app.
What does ShopSavvy do?
It’s a smartphone application that allows you to scan the barcodes you can see on any product in a shop. Once you’ve scanned the barcode, ShopSavvy would provide you with information from all over the world about how much that product costs elsewhere. It allows you to comparison shop while on the go, and even provides a list of local shops that have the product, and directions to those shops on a map.
So what’s Augmented Reality?
AR has been around as a concept for a very long time now; the earliest example I can think of is the first Terminator movie. When we see the world through the Terminators eyes, we see all the additional information it picks up through “scans” of whatever kind. But smartphones are finally providing the means to make that a practical reality. It works by adding information to the world around you through your phones camera. By looking through the “eye” of your phone, you can see information layered across the real world on your phone screen. The information can be whatever you like, from an arrow pointing in the direction of the nearest train station, to nutrition information floating above a product in the supermarket.
What’s the ShopSavvy doing with it?
It’s essentially an expansion of the already existing map service from ShopSavvy. You could use the app to pinpoint the location of local stores on a map. Now you can hold your phone up and, while looking through your phones camera, you can see the location of retailers just hanging in the air.
What about the QR Codes?
Up until now, ShopSavvy has only scanned the traditional Universal Product Code (UPC) barcodes that appear on goods all over the world. This update also allows it to scan QR Codes, which are a type of 2D barcode that store a LOT more information than UPC codes. QR Codes are massively popular in Japan, where they have successfully become a part of everyday life and business
Using QR Codes will mean that ShopSavvy will be able to offer much better services to users who scan the codes. Instead of just checking the price for the product, ShopSavvy would be able to connect you to websites relating to it. Or it could start a content download, or trigger a targeted marketing messaging, or a host of other applications.
What we think?
Just earlier today I was complaining about fragmentation in the mobile barcodes industry. And here is someone going in the opposite direction. ShopSavvy has cut its teeth on the most standardised format for barcodes available – the UPC barcode. And now it’s moving on to the most widely used standard of 2D barcode. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see DataMatrix support coming down the line this year.
As for the Augmented Reality…. well, it seems like it’s the most recent buzz application. AR is pretty hot right now, so a lot of people are integrating it.