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Tuesday, 09/18/2007 5:43:09 AM

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 5:43:09 AM

Post# of 326263
Battle of the Mobile Barcodes
Posted on September 17, 2007 by AC

If you’ve ever perused the pages of a Japanese cell phone magazine (what, am I the only one?!) you’ll recognize these little stamps that like an old dot matrix printer went momentarily berserk. They’re actually the next big thing for mobile technology in Europe and the UK, and North America won’t be far behind.

The Japanese example — the big square up top — is called a Quick Response or “QR” code. It’s a brilliant idea — magazines publish them (they’re much smaller in the practice) alongside articles and/or ads and readers scan them with their cameraphone. Some built-in software reads the codes and voilà — the user has a web link, phone number or secret message that’s saved directly onto their mobile!

There is an excellent free QR decoder available for non-Japanese handsets called The Kaywa Reader; unfortunately it’s not available for my trusty Nokia E61i — boo-hoo for me!

A QR competitor has emerged in the form of Semacode, developed right here in Canada and based on an open software standard. The bottom-left stamp is what the code looks like.

This is the barcode standard that seems to be taking off across the pond, and fortunately for me there’s an excellent free decoder available for my E61i called QuickMark. — it also reads QR Codes, just not the ones in my Japanese magazines… Maybe because of the non-English characters?

And never one to miss a party, the US and A has thrown a third barcode specification into the ring with their proprietary ShotCode. That’s an example of ShotCode at the bottom-right corner.

I predict that ShotCode won’t gain any traction beyond members of the National Rifle Association, and they’re too stupid to figure out how to use a high-functioning handset anyway…

As for the other two, you’ll start seeing them in magazines and on billboards soon enough, and starting today on this very page… I now have a Semacode link to my RSS feed just for you and your cameraphone!

P.S. The codes at the top of this page are all fully-functional — if you can decode ‘em be sure to post your bragging rights in the comments…

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