Scan your way to the web with a camera mobile phone
Or turn it into a... barcode reader
Bango.net and International Wireless Inc yesterday said they are collaborating to develop systems that will enable users of camera-enabled mobile handsets to download information and pay for services by using their phones as bar code readers.
The companies, which are based in Cambridge, UK, and Woburn, Massachusetts respectively, said their systems will enable mobile users to conduct "instant" transactions, creating opportunities for new revenue-generating services for mobile network operators (MNOs).
The collaborative project uses International Wireless's Codepoint software to interpret bar codes, translating them into a numeric code mapped against Bango's established system for matching internet URLs with a pre-registered number. The user of the system may then receive data directly from the content provider's web site, as if they had clicked on a hyperlink from within a conventional browser.
As such the system is an extension of Bango's existing wireless portal technology, which the company claims is used by more than 30 MNOs and wireless internet service providers (WISPs) worldwide, including major player such as Telefonica, BT and KPN. Now though, thanks to the emergence of phones such as the Nokia 7650, the Sony Ericsson P800 and Motorola A820, users don't even need to remember a number, but can simply point their "seeing" phones at a bar-coded advertisement or another notice to receive information. Ray Anderson, Bango's CEO, claimed the system represents "the ultimate user experience in [wireless] content delivery."
However, before the technology can take-off, International Wireless's Codepoint software must first be embedded in handsets. The partners have no agreements in place with handset makers at the moment, but Kevin Wells, president of International Wireless's Codepoint division said: "We're expecting to announce partnerships in this area shortly."
The Codepoint software can also be downloaded to handsets from the server of a mobile network operator. However, Bango and International Wireless have yet to announce any agreements with this community, and both companies may have to wait until camera-phones become more commonplace.