Cell Phones & Barcodes 

QR Barcode Readers

If you want to download a QR barcode reader for your cell phone, go to the
---> QR code readers page.

Make a Barcode

If you want to make a barcode (QR Code, Microsoft Tag, Data Matrix, EZcode, or UPC Code), go to the
---> make a barcode page.

Best Barcode Apps

If you're looking for a list of popular barcode applications, go to the
---> best barcode apps page.

UPC Barcode Readers

If you know about barcodes and you're looking for a UPC barcode reader for your cell phone, you'll want to go directly to the
---> UPC barcode readers page.

Barcode information


Most of us are familiar with the UPC barcode, more recently referred to as a linear barcode or 1D barcode. UPC barcodes provide characteristics such as price and model information. Software to scan UPC barcodes have recently been made available for most camera equipped cell phones. When a cell phone with barcode reading software scans a UPC barcode, information is sent to a database which in turn returns whatever data it's directed to send.



upc-barcodeFor instance, if you're shopping for a battery charger you would open the barcode reader app on your phone, scan the UPC barcode using your phone's camera, and wait a few seconds while the UPC information is sent over your phone's data network to the barcode software company's data center. The type of information returned from data centers include things like prices and locations of stores near you that have the same charger, as well as links to product reviews.

A quick scan might provide information about a store down the street that has the same charger on sale at a lower price.

2D barcodes hold more data

Recently, new barcodes referred to as 2D barcodes have been developed. 2D barcodes are able to store considerably more data. I'll spare you the history of 2D barcode development, however it's important to note that several types of 2D barcodes are competing to become the de facto standard.

types of 2D barcodes

A Japanese company named Denso Wave
promotes QR Code
A popular, secure and open format
 Data Matrix
qr-code-barcode data matrix barcode
Microsoft created
Microsoft Tag

An American company named Scanbuy
promotes EZcode
microsoft-tag-barcode ezcode-barcode

Click to see a full list of different types of barcodes in use

The plan is for cell phones and other devices to be equipped with various types of barcode scanning (reading) software. You use your cell phone's camera to scan a barcode which, via the phone's barcode software, provides information such as a phone number, email address or more commonly, a link to a website.

Advertisers will soon be putting barcodes on almost every type of medium to provide links to websites where information about a product or service can be obtained, coupons or discounts downloaded, or whatever else clever advertisers might dream up.

The race to become the most popular 2D barcode is very competitive. Over the past few years marketers, advertisers, and cell phone manufacturers have been slow to move forward as they've been unsure which barcode technology to invest in. However once a clear leader appears, we'll will be seeing a lot more 2D barcodes.

is QR Code the best barcode?

Each technology has it's advantages and disadvantages, however it appears QR Code is becoming the most popular barcode. QR barcodes, which are already extremely popular in Japan, are rapidly making their way through Europe, North America and the rest of the world.

QR Codes are being used to:

  • link to website URL's
  • link to email addresses
  • link to online map programs (providing an address and directions)
  • dial phone numbers
  • link to discounts and coupons (special offers)
  • provide contact information (which can be uploaded to sites like Facebook and Twitter)
  • create digital airline boarding passes
  • initiate and send SMS (text) messages
  • download ringtones
  • download wallpaper
  • create consumer loyalty cards (no need to carry a dozen different cards)
  • make payments for products or services (this could be huge)

Google really got the ball rolling for the QR Code in the United States when they mailed over 190,000 QR barcode decals to to the most popular businesses in its Local Business Directory (December, 2009). Google choosing QR Code rather than Data Matrix was quite a statement.

Google suggested each business post the free QR barcode decals in a prominent place, such as the front door of the business. Customers with QR barcode reader software on their cell phones can scan the barcode which in turn connects the user via a data connection to the business's Google Mobile Local Directory page. The Directory page provides information about the business such as maps and directions, phone numbers, addresses, reviews, as well as links to the business's website.

If you are one of the 190,000 local businesses who was chosen to have a QR barcode from Google and need a replacement decal, you can apply for one at Google Favorite Places Decal Request.

Google's choice to promote the QR barcode initiated a lot of activity and might have opened the floodgates as far as 2D barcode (specifically QR Code) use in North America is concerned.

Facebook to use QR codes for location info?

There is talk in the tech industry that Facebook Mobile app users will soon be able to 'check in' using QR barcodes posted in all kinds of public locations. Businesses (or anyone else) would be able to create Facebook QR codes and place them in  prominent spots. Facebook Mobile users would scan the QR code which would then update the user's location. This may be in place as early as July 2010.

*UPDATE: Facebook introduced Facebook Places on August 19, 2010 which has no tie-ins with barcodes. Will barcodes be an added feature?  - We will have to wait and see.


Koreans shop for groceries without even going to the store, using smartphones & QR Codes

 barcode resources