When “Dumb” Things Join the WoT: The Art of Barcode Scanning

Ok, so we talked a lot about integrating sensor nodes to the Web, then about integrating home appliances to the Web or about integrating industrial machines to the Web.

How about simple, dumb, traditional objects? Well the community is working on it! As an example, one of our latest projects is to Web-enable the global RFID networks (EPC) so that every RFID-tagged object becomes a true citizen of the World Wide Web (see our paper at IoT 2010). I’ll tell you more about this project soon but meanwhile I want to talk about even more dumb objects: those tagged with barcodes only!

We are big fans of barcode scanning. Most of our projects (like the home mashups project) use them as a “bootstrap” for obtaining the entry address of smart things (i.e., the root URL). We are even bigger fans of mobile barcode scanning because, actually, the mobile phone is probably the best interface to smart things out there.
But until today, barcode scanning (and especially 1-D barcode scanning) was a rather painful/frustrating/oh-my-gosh-I-wont-do-it-again process!

Say hello to Mirasense! Knowing the guys behind it, we actually knew about their superior scanning technology a while ago (and could really test it!). Now, they are going live on the iPhone platform with the Scandit free iTunes US Appstore app.

Scandit shows that barcode scanning is about to become a real input modality, a commodity. The app manages to scan almost any barcode in any situation, check it out:

Yeah I know the video looks suspicious and you can show whatever you want on a video. But hey your devoted blogger had the chance to test it live. Still not believing me? Well this is backed by a scientific paper at the IoT 2010 conference. Still dubious? Well just install it then!

While this does not yet address the pure “Web” aspect of barcode tagged object (i.e., how do you create RESTful Web APIs to access authoritative data, traces, etc. about these objects), in their Scandit app, they further integrate the scanner with a lot of different services and information on the Web (BestBuy, social networks, twitter, etc.) turning the shopping experience into a giant and automated data mashup:

Having recently moved from iPhone to Android and feeling sooooo good about it, I just can’t wait for the Android version to come out (apparently it’s planned).

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