Thoughts on S60

reflections on the most popular mobile operating system worldwide

Mobile Codes and Barcode Reader-A Step in the Right Direction

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Barcode CreatonWhen the barcode reader came preinstalled on some
S60 3rd Edition devices like the
N80, it didn’t seem to have a practical use whatsoever. Both myself and some of my peers made attempts to use it on random UPC’s only to be disappointed when it would not do anything. I even asked a sales rep at the Nokia store in Chicago about the app and I was told it was intended for businesses to log their own scan codes for merchandise or to manage databases. While I’m almost positive he was just making all that up, you could use it for that purpose, the realistic use of it is much more interesting in regards to how mobile technology can change the way we operate.

Barcode CreatonNow that Nokia has put up their Beta Labs website about creating codes specifically for mobile barcode scanners, the application makes a little bit more sense and also provides some clever ways to use it. The website allows you to create your own barcode with whatever type of text you’d like the barcode to read, such as a brief phrase, an email address, a link, or your phone number. Currently, I’ve seen several bloggers play around with it as well as forum members using it in their sig for things like showing phone stats or just providing contact information. This all may seem like a novelty, but technology like this would be huge if it came preinstalled on every cameraphone and adopted on a global scale.

Imagine a scenario where you want to transfer your contact information to someone. The traditional way would be to give them your business card, if you have one, or have them write down your phone number. Jump to the year 2000, and that person would probably just add you to their contacts on their phone by typing out your name and number. The newer way that’s starting to catch on is to send
vCards over
Bluetooth, which is hit or miss depending on whether or not both phones have Bluetooth in the first place, much less the recipient knows how to use it (I’ve found most do not).

With something like the barcode scanner, you can combine the two modern and traditional styles of information sharing. What if you had a barcode printed on your business card that contained all your contact information along with the same contact information written on the card itself? Now you can simply give your business card to the recipient and spare them all that typing. That person could simply open the barcode scanner application on their phone and scan the information right into their phone at their leisure without having to add the information at that very moment. On an
S60 device, when a phone number or email address appears from a scanned barcode, the option to call, email, or Save to Contacts comes up, and if a URL is read, the option to browse to that page comes up as well. That certainly saves a bunch of key presses, but I think it can be even easier.

I applaud Nokia for their efforts with this app, especially since there are now barcode scanners for all java-enabled phones from other developers, but it’s not where it should be. The scan still takes anywhere from 5-15 seconds to scan a barcode properly. In that amount of time, I might as well type in a person’s information, so it certainly doesn’t win on time, despite being easier. I’m looking forward to something like
vCard sending over Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. I envision something like being able to touch two phones together and doing just that would automatically store each others vCard information.

Nonetheless, my next round of business cards is going to have the same information in barcode form, regardless of whether or not the technology catches on enough for the general public to know what it is or how to use it. You can also find this in the upper right corner of my front page, should the need arise to add my contact information into your phone.

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Written by Jonathan

June 7, 2007 at 5:18 am

Posted in Applications

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