The Sunday New York Times (in /: New Bar Codes Can Talk With Your Cellphone, on the front page, abet under the fold) talks about the latest effects to launch in north america something almost mainstream in Japan : 2D barcodes known a QRCodes (Quick Repsonse Codes), also know as Semacode‘s. (Both ISO standards)
~30 million camera phone’s in the US (1/3 of the total), but few of the with the software needed loaded. As always there is a chicken and egg thing going on here : cellphone company won’t load the software until there is demand, and there is no wide demand because it’s not preloaded on the cellphones. And there won’t be uses for the technology until its widely available for use.
The NYT article talks about efforts by NeoMedia to launch their version : qode. Will this be any different from the infamous, proprietary hardware/software stinker know as CueCat (now literally in the junk bins across the country)? Maybe not, Although not running on proprietary hardware, it appears that Neomedia (Qode) has been granted a patent for a server-side redirect for input from a mobile handset’s camera. See Return of the Cat? for more issues and ugly details.
I think Semacode’s and QRcode’s do have value in being a scanable data, saving a user from keying in data, be that a url or text, with some error correction capacity. Does being a 2d pattern have enough benefit over a 1d bar code? Better density of information? Less motion in scanning?
So the hardware is out there, as is trust worthy software (just not from NeoMedia/CueCat). The Japanese have figured it out. We either find our own uses for this (like Semapedia ) or let someone “sell” it (and us) their “solution”.
I meet semacode designer Simon Woodside at Toronto’s DemoCamp 4 last March (2006), blogged about QRCode‘s in 2004 with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, BarCode Fish…, TokyoArtBeat and QR codes and Camera-phone barcode reader. and more in del.icio.us under QRCode.
April 1th Update : and now MicroSoft has their own colorful QR code competitor the “High Capacity Color Barcode” or HCCB!!