Monday, April 21, 2008

QuickMark 2D Barcode Reader for iPhone

QuickMark's 2D barcode reader appears to be working on the iPhone. The short video shows the QuickMark software successfully decoding a QR Code containing a UTF-8 encoded Chinese string. No download is available yet, but we are not supposed to be able to do that on an iPhone anyway (at least not officially).

So far the iPhone is still a supposedly proprietary platform, although several developers have already been able to create applications for jail broken iPhones.

Such actions are probably frowned upon by Apple, so they started a iPhone Developer Program and plans to launch its App Store platform later this year to set things straight (and make more money). But it remains to be seen how many 3rd party applications will be available when the Store goes live and when iPhones start to come with version 2.0 firmware.

In terms of barcode reader applications for iPhone, iMatrix is quite active and is looking to add support for a variety of proprietary barcodes. Google's ZXing project has iPhone on its road map and Neomedia has also released a couple of screenshots.

Although the iPhone has plenty of barcode reader support, it is not equipped with a great camera for reading barcodes. From my brief experience with the iPhone, barcodes will probably need a module size of at least 0.8 mm to have a chance of being recognized by the iPhone (in Japan, QR Codes are sometimes printed with 0.25 mm module sizes).

Update: QuickMark for iPhone is now available on iTunes App Store at:

Sunday, April 6, 2008

QR Codes For Hua-Lien Organic Products

User scans an official QR Code label issued by the Council of Agriculture

Not only are QR Codes for food traceability promoted by at the national level in Taiwan, I also recently noticed that it is being implemented at a more regional/local level as well. The Hua-Lien Shien Bureau of Agriculture also have their own system for certifying organic agriculture products from Hua-Lien using QR Codes.

QR Code label by Hua-Lien Shien Bureau of Agriculture

The Hua-Lien Shien stickers are noticeably larger and seems to have more information, even including a photo of the producer. However, scanning the QR Code takes you to a web page with pretty much the same information (link). Therefore the enlarged label is probably taking into consideration that most people are still not equipped with mobile barcode readers.

If you are into organic products, Hua-Lien Shien has setup an online shop for these products, check it out.

Related links (Chinese): Taiwanese farmers with cutting edge technology, Technology and tradition

Student Vlog Explains 2D Barcodes

A video by Ming Chuan University students (most likely as an assignment) explaining the benefits of 2D barcodes as opposed to the traditional 1D barcodes. Part of the video was taken during a computer expo in May 2007, featuring QuickMark and 2D barcodes that integrate with map softwares to provide GPS navigational services. The video demonstrates those features using the ETEN glofiish, but they are actually available for all QuickMark supported Windows Mobile devices (version 3.3 and above). To use the navigational functions, one needs to either have PaPaGo! (Taiwanese map software) or Garmin Mobile XT installed.

The i'm TV website that hosts the vlog is also catering to the mobile users and has a page explaining how to use QR Codes for quicker access to their contents.

Looking For A House? Scan A QR

A full page newspaper ad featuring several QR Codes by GigaHouse (a real estate company in Taiwan) was spotted at the end of last year. The ad announced that the real estate company is working with operators to provide mobile search services for real estate items and placed a QR Code for each of their featured items. And apparently, their agents will be printing contact info 2D barcodes on their business cards as well.

The contents of the barcodes are web links that take users to a mobile web page with some additional information regarding the item. The unfortunate thing is that once again, the 2D barcodes are printed with a rather small module size that is not easily recognizable by the average camera phone.

More related links: GigaHouse on emome, GigaHouse with Taiwan Mobile