Tag Archives: wireless Internet access

News: Barcodes Fight Back

 I love this idea. The New York Times reports that James Patten, a graduate student in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, has come up with a digital tool that can scan the bar code printed on nearly any product, and indicate whether its corporate pedigree is blemished. The Corporate Fallout Detector “combines a bar-code reader with an internal database of pollution complaints and ethics violations packed in a casing resembling a cold-war-era Geiger counter”.
 
Marc Smith, a research sociologist at Microsoft, has meanwhile “been developing a similar device, combining a bar-code scanner, a hand-held computer and wireless Internet access. In a grocery store near a cafe that was promoting a Wi-Fi hot spot, he tested a box of cereal by scanning the bar code and letting the computer nose around on the Internet. It turned out that the cereal had been recalled because its label failed to mention the presence of nuts, a potential hazard to people with allergies.”
 
Both great ideas, but why stop there. You could use barcodes — or their more powerful successors, RFID tags — to hook up with data such as other consumer comments, cheaper products elsewhere, or whatever. Suddenly the tags and barcodes that empower retailers may end up empowering the consumer…

Update: Would You Fork Out $700 For It?

  Wired says Sony’s new handheld, the PEG-UX50 Clié due out in September, is a neat, neat thing. But are people going to shell out $700 for it?
 
 
it has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for wireless Internet access and Bluetooth, which allows users to sync wirelessly with other Bluetooth-enabled devices. Sony has even developed its own Handheld Engine to ensure that the device does it all without taxing the battery life.
 
It comes with a host of Palm applications. It has an MP3 player and supports all of the Microsoft Office applications. A Memory Stick media expansion slot lets users play up to five hours of continuous video or 16 hours of continuous audio. The UX50 contains a 310,000-pixel camera, a lower resolution camera than its previous product, the NZ90, which comes with a 2-megapixel version. But will people splash out?