Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unleash HTC Hero Android's Bar Code Scanner

The purpose of this post is to show people how to improve their marketing efforts to the mobile market and speeding up basic information acquisition such as the URL to your site or your contact data is a major step forward.


The Barcode Scanner!

Many of you are carrying phones around that have bar code scanners built into them and you probably have no clue about the true potential sitting in the palm of your hand.

Most people just imagine scanning UPC codes on products so they can do comparative shopping while standing in a store, but that only scratches the surface of the bar code scanners potential.

Just in case you haven't installed a scanner on your phone yet, the Android Market has a lot of barcode scanners for various applications and you can find them by going into the market and searching for "barcode" to find them.

For the purpose of this blog post, download and install "Barcode Scanner" by ZXing Team which did a lot of work that appears on the Android site.

Now, who knows what a QR code is?

Hardly anyone outside of Japan because that's where the QR code (Quick Response code) was invented by the Denso-Wave corporation in 1994. Now those codes are stamped on almost everything in Japan and almost all the Japanese camera phones can scan them so all you need to do is aim your phone in Japan and get the information in the QR code.

I think we're the Dense Wave here in the US because barely anyone uses the QR codes and they save a ton of typing time on a phone. Aim your camera in scan mode and when the bar code comes into focus the camera goes BEEP and all that typing has been done for you.

What kinds of things can go into a QR code?

  • URLs
  • Email Addresses
  • Calendar Events
  • Contact Information
  • Geo Location
  • SMS
  • Plain Text
  • Phone Number
For instance, here's a QR code for the URL of this blog.

To get this URL into your phone requires no typing, just enable the ZXing scanner and aim it at the screen. When it gets the QR code in clear focus it beeps and says "Open in Browser", how easy is that?

Way faster than stumbling around the on screen keyboard.

Just think, you can add a QR code all your web pages in the lower corner to include your URL and Google gives you a free QR Code API for generating these images. Now anyone looking at a web page that wants to put that URL in their phone just scans it in, simple as that.

Looks too complicated?

Not at all, here's the link to display the URL image shown above:
To make life even simpler, the ZXing team put a QR Code Generator on the Google App Engine site that allows you to quickly create anything that their barcode scanner can scan.

Some other companies like BrightKite have already "got it" and they have a QR code for the URL on every page and they even have a direct link to their app in the Android Market!

This is how BrightKite links directly into the Android market search in your phone:
Now let's do something useful with this QR Code stuff, let's encode an entire contact information profile that you can put on your contact us web page, print on the back of your business card, or even print a QR code on a t-shirt and let anyone scan you in person!

Here's a sample contact card that's QR coded:

When you scan the above QR code after the beep it allows you to "Add Contact", "Show Map", "Dial Number" or "Send Email", all useful things to do!

What's all encoded in the above contact image?
John Doe
XYZ Corp.
123 Main Street, Everywhere, MO, USA
That's a lot of information for one little image!

The best part is it's universal information, doesn't require a business card scanner, USB cable or a keyboard to get it into your phone, just a 2 second scan and you're done.

Now that I've hopefully given you some useful information about QR codes, run out there and start putting QR codes on your business cards, web sites, t-shirts, and more.

Be inventive, tattoo your wife's name on your arm in QR code!

Explore the possibilities because I think the market, now armed with all these QR code scanning phones, is ready to be bar coded.


Scott said...

Great rant! Loved it. Yes there are things you can do with barcode scanning besides comparative shopping. Agorasys has an application that allows you to check to see if the food you bought is subject to recall. The app is RecallCheck: http://www.agorasys.com/products.html.

Best Wishes
Scott Charles

Anonymous said...

will this work for HTC HD2. I am aware that this doesnt have android marketplace but there must be somewhere i can download it online?
any help?