If you own a T-Mobile G1 Phone, chances are you have used one of the applications that reads barcodes. ShopSavvy and CompareEverywhere are the two most popular applications that make use of scanning. Each one allows the user to take a snapshot of a product UPC using the built in camera, then compare prices on the web.
Both programs make use of an open source software from ZXing (“Zebra Crossing”). Other Android developers can use intents to bring the functionality of Barcode Scanner into their own program. One example of this would be Torrent Droid, which was the winner of our first Android Bounty.
In addition to normal UPCs, ZXing has added support for the following codes.
- UPC-A and UPC-E
- EAN-8 and EAN-13
- Code 39
- Code 128
- QR Code
- Data Matrix (‘alpha’ quality)
A QR Code (“Quick Response”) is a 2D barcode that can store much more information than a standard UPC. Inside a QR Code you can find text, hyperlinks, contact information, geo location, and more. They are capable of storing up to 250 characters. QR Codes have become common in Japan, but have yet to take off in the United States.
One of the cool uses of QR Codes can be found via the share option in Barcode Scanner for Android. By pressing menu then share, users are able to easily send contact infomation, bookmarks, and text from their clipboard to other G1 phones. Users can create their own QR codes from one of the free online generators.
After you create your own QR code, there are many creative uses. They can be placed on the back of business cards so that your contact information can be scanned to someone’s phone in seconds. Advertisers can place them in print media to send customers to their product website. Bands could place them on the back of a CD case allowing you to hear an audio preview or purchase concert tickets. Secret messages can be hidden inside for people to find.
I’m already planning to place a QR code on my next order of business cards. We might even use them in some future promotions too. What other innovative uses can you come up with?