Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Barcode scanning on iFone

I was chatting with Sven the other day about how nice it'd be to have a simple barcode reader that talks to a desktop machine. Basically, he just wants a "keyboard" that takes barcodes as input and "types" them as output over USB/bluetoof/whatever.

I looked at a bunch of apps and about half of them only read QR codes, or if they do read "1-D" codes, they only recognize valid UPC codes, not the barcodes on tapes.  Also, it seems like the best way to scan is to make a "scanning stage" where your phone is stationary and you just put tapes in front of it. Autofocus seems to try to lock-on to the background, missing a tape that you're holding in your hand.

I found these:

ZBar : Open source! Captures barcodes very quickly. Unfortunately no "batch" scan mode, you have to click the Camera icon after each scan to return it to scanning mode. You can capture a whole bunch of codes, that it stores in RAM, and then email the whole list to yourself. Very nice, and could be haX0red into a custom application if we had a C++ dev.

iCody: Eight bucks, but well worth it! Lets you crop your camera input down to just a section, so no auto-focus garbage, nor problems when multiple codes are in the view. Captures a whole batch into RAM, and then lets you send those in email. Also, I didn't try it, but it's got a desktop applet that you can run, and if iFone and Mac are on the same wifi, it'll send codes directly to your Mac -- if it works, that's a winner. :)

And the ones I tried that donut work for scanning our backup tapes:
RedLaser: Won't recognize tapes, only takes 1-D barcodes that are UPCs. (It's a shame, since they have a nice SDK.)
ScanLite: only does QR codes. (It's a shame, as they have a web API that lets you write your own webapps that use the iFone app as input.)
codeREADr: only does QR.
i-nigma 4: only does QR, despite suggesting otherwise in the description...
BeeTagg : only does QR

So there you have it, that's what I gleaned in a couple hours over the weekend.  Share and enjoy!

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