ScanZoom, which allows camera phone users to scan barcodes to compare prices in stores and obtain other information and services, is now available. It will work with most camera phones, but there’s a catch: You have to pay $10 for the software, $10 for a special macro zoom lens, and another $5 or so to get it to you. A similar version if available for webcams. I haven’t tried it out yet, but if I recall correctly a barcode reading pen was available a few years back — the C Pen, if I’m not mistaken, which turned out to be less of a success than
A panel at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas last weekend discussed the future of moblogging — the art of creating online journals composed mostly of photos uploaded in part direct from camera-phones — and, in part, whether such activities may threaten journalism. With so many folk armed with camera phones — and some even knowing how to use them — might they be better placed to record momentous events than journalists and photographers? Heather Somers, managing editor of the excellent Weblog of the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review, reports from the conference that at least one panelist was unconvinced. Molly Steenson,
Here’s more on a subject I looked at in December (and then promptly forgot about): Using your camera phone as a bar code scanner. Wired says there are at least four software companies that have released applications that let you take a photo of a bar code, which will then trigger the download of coupons, reviews and other information about that product. Not a bad idea. As the article points out, most phones have inbuilt browsers, so in theory it’s possible to check out competing prices and more information about a product you’re looking at. But who actually does that? This is what the folk
infoSync World reports of new software that allows camera phone users to take a picture of a barcode and then, say, retrieve information about the product: whether it’s cheaper elsewhere, dietary information, or downloading music samples from a poster advertising a new album. The product, ScanZoom, is made by US-based software company Scanbuy. The article points out that a similar technology is already available in Japan, where phones can recognize e-mail addresses, web site URLs and telephone numbers through their embedded cameras.
Interesting stuff from camera phone fan Alan Reiter on, well, camera phones, and camera phone art: “I’m a huge fan of camera phones, obviously, but I’m not a huge fan of 640 x 480 resolution. The sooner we get rid of VGA and start making 1 megapixel the standard resolution, the better I’ll like it. However, I’m getting more enthusiastic about camera phone photos as “art” — even VGA images — as I see more interesting photos taken with these handsets.” Worth a read.
Further to my Loose Wire column last week about camera phones, here’s some evidence to back up my shock assertion that they’re catching on. The Register quotes market watcher Canalys as saying almost as many as shipped in the last quarter as shipped in the whole of the first half of 2003. By 2006, over half of all mobile phones shipped will include cameras, Canalys reckons.
The limits to camera phones CNET Asia reports that some Korean manufacturers like Samsung and LG Electronics “may be fiercely promoting camera-equipped phones to consumers, but are wary about allowing their use on their own company grounds.” Both companies have barred employees from using the gadgets in some of their factories to prevent “industrial espionage and intellectual property theft”, the report says, quoting Korean daily Chosun Ilbo (here’s the original report). This is another chapter in the fast moving saga of camera phones. They’ve been banned in some public areas — changing rooms and the like — and CNET says bookstore owners in Japan