Sunday, July 22, 2007

QR Code For Price Comparison Results

Amidst all the excitement about the potential of mobile (2D) barcodes, one of the most frequently asked questions / comments is probably something along the lines of: Where can I find such mobile barcodes to scan? What happens when I scan a mobile barcode?

There are certainly numerous examples out there, but today I'd like to share with you one of those QR Code sightings at

FindBook is a sort of the local Taiwanese version of BestBookBuys or PriceGrabber. Their latest feature is to show a QR Code on the price comparison page, which contains the best price of the book of interest. That way, instead of taking out your paper and pen to jot down the info, you will only need your mobile phone to keep the search data handy.

Since the data contained is the QR Code is just plain text, it is fairly staright forward to use. Simply scan & save and you're set to view it whenever you like.

It's always nice to see websites incorporating the use of mobile barcodes and FindBook's attempt is a good start that hopefully stimulates more advanced applications/services. For instance, what if the user is able to receive price discounts or vouchers at certain bookstores as a reward for scanning the 2D barcode?

Not trying to be nitpicking, but for my particular book price comparison, the information encoded inside the QR Code is the price info of a pure online bookstore (no brick-and-mortar presence), rendering the action of storing the price information on the mobile phone redundant and useless.


Swampthing said...

Good article. Although, I do not see Neomedia Technologies/Gavitec mentioned. This company and their applications will help standardize a World Wide Universal Reader for all codes along with MC2, and HP.

IMO, everyone's vision is clouded by 2D codes. What about all of the 1D codes already produced. Why not click on them?

The Universal Reader should also turn on an object when the logo, trademark, keyword, billboard, RFID, 1D (5-10 trillion anually produced), etc. are clicked on.

IMO, this company holds the key for the brands to reach the consumer.

What happens if the mobile Universal Reader allows voice clicks to content. Say the word and the information pops up on your mobile?

mike said...

Hi swampthing, thanks for your comment. Neomedia and its partners are definitely worth mentioning in the 2D barcode space and I like the idea of a mobile universal reader, but I think 2D barcodes are simply easier to implement for the various mobile applications/services compared to logos, trademarks, keywords, 1D barcodes, and etc. at this time.

Of course, there are some assumptions I am making. For instance, I assume that good image recognition is pretty tough to achieve. There may be new logos/trademarks created everyday and it will be a task to keep the mobile recognition engine updated. If the recognition is done by passing an image to the server, the end user incurs Internet fees with the possibility of getting nothing but a recognition failed error (and not to mention the response wait time).

This is speaking from my experience with the TrackID application on my SE Walkman phone, which I get quite frustrated when I get failed results from my search attempt.

I also assume that for scanning 1D barcodes to be useful, a good & big lookup database must be first put into place (who will own the data?). I am also assuming that the majority of the 1D barcodes produced have little meaning or significance to the end user, and it might again be a money & time wasting activity for the user to start randomly clicking on 1D barcodes.

Although the 2D barcode alternative is probably a simple web url, it at least takes them somewhere and lets the user know where he/she is headed. Furthermore, it takes camera phones with macro-lens or auto-focus to get good images of 1D barcodes. More phones will meet those requirements in the future for sure, but just not yet.