There are a few iPhone apps on the market that claim to be Barcode ‘readers’. Upon closer examination, almost all do not handle the little lined barcodes you see on everything, instead they are for reading the square ‘2D’ barcodes mostly used for data and ad linking.
The few that I have tested to do standard product barcodes have been lacking… generally to the point that they don’t work. Recently one app called RedLaser has been getting a lot of press, so I dropped another couple dollars in hope it was better than the earlier options.
Wow! That pretty much wraps it up. Your milage may vary, but for me the app started working very nicely right away.
Of course your iphone does not have a Red Laser to read the barcode like a store checkout does. So, RedLaser allows you to take a picture of a product barcode then translates that into data to query out and return a list of availability options and prices. The capture of the barcode is automated so I had quiet a time to get this screen shot. As soon as the code lined up in the box the app snapped an image and I was given a description of what I was looking at and where I could buy it.
While being able to price check and do comparative shopping is fun. The way people have been using RedLaser is far beyond that. One simple example given is to scan book codes as you place them in a box, then export the list to print and place on the outside of the box. So simple… why didn’t I think of that?!
The creators of RedLaser have made it very easy to add more power and options to the application. No serious programming needed. They offer a few options on their site you can use as well they offer the app to use to create more. You add the additional features like an application in your launcher. Once you have scanned with RedLaser, you launch one of the other related apps to use it’s additional features. Some popular app options others have created is searching google or amazon for information about the barcode product you scanned. The options are limited by your imagination… why not scan and pass the info to DB on your desktop for a home inventory… why not use it as a Wedding Gift registry so you can post your list of wants on your Web site… you get the idea.
RedLaser built in features allow you to manually enter the barcode numbers if you have poor lighting or a smudged barcode. Also, you can email your list… which is the simplest way to create that box of books list to print.