Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Ready-to-Use Bar Code Scanner

  [vote for,

A simplistic, hand-held bar code scanner for public use, fully functional out of the box, and with no other software or hardware required for its use.

Simply pull the trigger, the only control on the unit aside from the on/off switch, and run the red beam over a bar code to have the scanner use its wireless capabilities to acess a database containing national averages on product prices. The scanner finds the price, makes a delightful 'ping' noise, and displays the info on its LCD screen. The database will be updated weekly to keep up with market fluctuations. Great for people who constantly feel the need to haggle about why a can of peas costs less in a different state, but cannot handle technology more complicated than a remote control.

You can also shine it into other people's eyes to momentarily stun them before you deliver a coup-de-grace or to give you time to flee to safety. Style and function, with a designer carrying case! Batteries included.

notmarkflynn, May 02 2006

All of the pieces are in place. http://www.theregis...7/10/scan_your_way/
[half, May 02 2006]

Halfbakery: X-ray specs for consumer products X-ray_20specs_20for_20consumer_20products
Similar idea. [jutta, May 02 2006]

Halfbakery: Palm Barcode Shopping-list Palm_20Barcode_20Shopping-list
Much of the same discussion. [jutta, May 02 2006]

Halfbakery: Scan before you Buy Scan_20before_20you_20Buy
And another. [jutta, May 02 2006]

Halfbakery: Barcodes on ICs and Business Cards Bar-codes_20on_20IC..._20Business_20Cards
This thread, for some reason, was particularly good at covering the consumer device side of things. [jutta, May 02 2006]


       And not only prices, but product reviews. I'd love to access the Amazon reviews while shopping in a bookstore, for instance.
ldischler, May 02 2006

       I've heard noises about using the camera on cell phones as a bar code scanner for just this purpose. I can't remember if that was in the real world or here. It certainly wouldn't be a technological leap to use a phone to connect to the internet or use a CCD to scan barcodes.
half, May 02 2006

       Now that would be a great use of a cell phone!
ldischler, May 02 2006

       Using the CCD on a phone would also allow you to read 2D barcodes whereas a run-of-the-mill laser scanner will not. Of course, you couldn't blind your mortal enemy for a fast getaway with a CCD, but maybe if your phone has a flash?
half, May 02 2006

       Well, you could always just throw the whole thing at his face instead.   

       But yes, while I was writing this, the whole thing sounded suspiciously baked. I googled for it and checked the HB, but I couldn't find an idea or invention like it. It just seemed a little too obvious.
notmarkflynn, May 02 2006

       See links for various parts of the database -> code -> handheld story on the halfbakery. Personally, I don't think I need another iteration, but if you feel yours is unique, you know, whatever.   

       Switching to a non-human-readable form of communication when there's perfectly good writing around strikes me as bloody stupid and doomed to fail, unless there's something particuarly cute about sharing secret notes.   

       (I don't mean that the invention is intended for sharing secret notes, but sometimes coding systems can have an appeal that stems from the little surprise you get when you look up a code and find out what it meant - that translation itself, the knowledge to be communicating hidden with other users of the same technology, can be fun. Sorry for the misunderstanding.)
jutta, May 02 2006

       <nemesis>This is a terrible idea. It would disconnect us from reality and make us open to simple trickery. Vandals would get barcode stickers to put over books which, when scanned would put swear words on the screen. May the unmentionable creator of this idea be trampled by a thousand diarrhoeic camels.</nemesis>
dbmag9, May 02 2006

       Sorry if it's not clear in the text, but it's not for secret notes. It's to be used with the standard bar codes already present on most factory made retail products.
notmarkflynn, May 03 2006

       I think the point is: why scan a bar code instead of just looking up (with words) the particular Tom Clancy review or whatever is required. That way, everyone can access it, regardless of whether the actual product is within arm's reach at that time.
Texticle, May 04 2006

       Why key in free form text (particularly in the proposed small form factor device) to search for something when a unique index is at the ready and can be captured in milliseconds with practically no chance of inaccuracy and with minimal effort? The original idea and its 3rd party extensions are clearly intended for when the product is within arm's reach.   

       'fraid I just don't understand the objection to the use of barcodes at all. It fits in perfectly with what I see as the primary goal of the proposed device: a dead simple information appliance with a UI that requires almost no special knowledge to operate.   

       It uses an existing, ubiquitous, industry standard barcode: nothing sinister or mysterious will be hidden in them.   

       What's not clear to me is who owns the device. Is it the property of the customer or the store? As best I can determine through some potentially misdirecting text ("for public use") is that it's owned by the customer. No way the store is going to want to make competitive (even average) pricing available on the spot unless they're assured of being on the winning end of the data.   

       Do I think the proposed gizmo could technically function as presented? Yes. Do I think it would ever catch on? Not really. I vote neutral.
half, May 04 2006


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