Mobile Phones as Bar Code Readers and a $900 iPhone app

Aug 21, 2009
Oshyn Labs
While the social media networks seem to be filled with chatter on iPhone apps and the likes, we should be engaging in more conversation about what else technology can do with phones.
 
I was recently on a high speed TGV in Europe reading the UK version of The Economist (they think its funny that we use the term "cellphone"). An article was discussing the death of the landline in the United States with more and more households only using mobile devices. I remember in the early 90's watching a TV program about the concept of mobile phones and how eventually (gasp) we would all have our own personal number and not share a singular number with the household.
 
There's another article in The Economist online that talks about how in Japan mobile phones usually have a software installed that acts like a bar code reader. You take a picture of the barcode and it is translated into your phone. You can imagine that the sky is the limit on how to use this technology. Forget about sending your business card to another mobile that's so pass. You could conceivably put a bar code just about anywhere. Your shirt. Your marketing collateral. POS signs in retail stores.
 
According to The Economist, "In America and Europe, three types of bar code, called QR Code, Data Matrix and Ezcode, are likely to become common. The first two are free, open standards. Ezcode is owned by a New York-based firm called Scanbuy, but it, too, is available free, for general purposes. The firm behind it makes its money by charging advertisers and publishers when people use it."
 
But back to the ever interesting topic of iPhone applications. According to Dan Frommer from the Silicon Alley Insider, the most expensive iPhone app iRA Pro is a whopping $900. It provides a dashboard to control live feeds of video surveillance cameras and apparently targets customers that monitor security systems for large institutions and governments.
 
I think an iPhone app that takes a picture of your palm and provides a highly personalized palm reading could be entertaining. What do you wish your mobile (er cell phone) could do?