August 1, 2014

Potential for 2D Barcodes is Limitless

As individuals and teams are busy plugging away with their current Android projects, I’d like to appeal to them. In fact, it doesn’t matter what platform you are writing for. Symbian, Apple, RIM, Windows Mobile, or Linux. All can take advantage of this. The technology behind the 2D barcodes has been largely ignored in the United States.

2D, or Quick Response (QR) barcodes have been around for over 13 years yet essentially nobody can tell you how they work. Most people haven’t seen them before and the few that have will most likely just say “Oh yeah, I’ve seen them before. What do they do again?”

Here’s a quick primer: They were initially designed for tracking parts in auto manufacturing, but they’re now used in a much broader commercial context. Aimed at mobile phone users, the codes often store text and links to URL’s. You’ll find them in magazines, on signs, business cards or pretty much anywhere you can put a sticker. A user with a camera phone equipped with the right software can scan the image of the QR Code and their phone will respond accordingly, often taking the user to a website.

So where in your daily life could you find it beneficial to use this stuff? Here are a couple of examples that could really benefit from this technology. Real estate agents could put barcodes on their fliers and sheets with houses listed. Rather than just seeing one picture with a price, imagine being directed to a site that has an entire gallery, video walk-through, and FAQ’s.

If you’ve ever stopped at a car lot late at night only to find a sheet of paper stuck to the window of a locked car, you’ll see where I am going with this. Mileage, available features, and warranty information might be provided to you simply by scanning the sticker on the windshield. And you don’t have to stand there and talk to high pressure salesmen!

Perhaps you’re at an amusement park and you need pointed to the nearest restroom. Click the sticker on your map and get turn by turn directions. Looking for your doctor at the new facility and aren’t quite sure where to go? You can see what I’m getting at.

Getting back to those who are developing for Android I’d like to say this. Your entry into the Android Developers Challenge is sitting right here in front of you. If I knew how to write a program, here’s what I would do: Write an application where a user can scan the front of their ATM card and be directed to the nearest ATM location, taking advantage of the GPS or tower-based location features.

Unfortunately I’m only a blogger.