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ShopSavvy app adds QR code support, augmented reality

Big in Japan Inc., the developers of ShopSavvy, are adding augmented reality and QR code support to the application in an effort to expand consumer use of 2D bar codes.

ShopSavvy said it added QR code support after Google initiated its Favorite Places program and sent 100,000 retailers QR code stickers to place in store windows for consumer scanning. ShopSavvy Product Radar’s augmented reality feature was added to be another resource to help consumers.

“We’re always working to increase the utility of ShopSavvy, and we believe QR code support and ShopSavvy Product Radar will be of real value to users,” said Alexander Muse, cofounder of Big in Japan, Dallas.

Big in Japan develops mobile applications, building software for Google’s Android, Apple’s iPhone, Windows Mobile and other platforms and devices.

ShopSavvy lets mobile consumers comparison shop on the go. Within the application, consumers scan a product’s bar code using their phone’s built-in camera and ShopSavvy searches the Web for the best prices on the product, displaying the lowest prices online as well as at nearby brick-and-mortar retailers.

ShopSavvy also looks up product reviews to further assist consumers purchase decisions.

Savvy shopping
In December, ShopSavvy released an updated version if its iPhone application that features enhancements made based on feedback from users (see story).

ShopSavvy recently began using PayPal’s new Adaptive Payments APIs to enable mobile commerce.

With the service, ShopSavvy customers can immediately buy items through their PayPal account after they scan the product bar code with their mobile device’s camera (see story).

Last week, ShopSavvy QR code support became available for Android phones, such as the Nexus One, HTC Hero and Motorola Droid and will soon be available on the iPhone.

QR codes , also known as 2D bar codes, are mostly used in supply-chain today, rather than by retailers. But, Mr. Muse said with the Google Favorite Places program, Big in Japan expects to see an increase of use QR code use in retail settings, so the company added the code reading capability to ShopSavvy.
In the new Product Radar, consumers can hold the camera up and via augmented reality see the various stores selling the product. This new feature gives consumers a new way to view their search results.

The augmented reality capabilities are set to launch in a few weeks and Mr. Muse said the functionalities will be enhanced over time.

The Google influence
Mr. Muse said women scan 1D UPC bar codes the most and 2D bar codes seem to be dominated by younger, tech-savvy males. 

Big in Japan found tech-savvy consumers are also those most interested in augmented reality right now, but the company expects the appeal for both 2D and augmented reality to broaden over time.
With Google’s support, 2D bar codes could become much more widely used, especially since 2D bar codes can hold more information than standard 1D bar codes.

GS1, the barcode standards organization, has added 2D as a standard to allow for extended packaging for members who want to tie ingredient, carbon and social data to items. 

“Google’s Favorite Places program seeks to tag locations with 2D codes that point to underlying information,” Mr. Muse said. “In some cases the information is historical or informative, and in others it is retail related, like coupons. 

“Google hopes 2D codes can allow for the creation of a new ranking system called PlaceRank,” he said. “There is a good chance that 2D codes will become much more common in the near term.”