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Barcode Recognition Demo

A Research Demo of the Distributed Systems Group

Automatic identification technology such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) promises to connect physical objects with virtual representations or even computational capabilities. However, even though RFID tags are continuously falling in price, their widespread use on consumer items is still several years away, rendering large-scale experiments with such an “internet of things” difficult. Much more ubiquitous are printed bar codes, yet so far their recognition required either specialized scanner equipment, custom-tailored bar codes or costly commercial licenses – all equally significant deployment hurdles. We have developed a freely available 1D bar code recognition and information system that is both lightweight and fast enough for the use on camera-equipped mobile phones, thus significantly lowering the barrier for large-scale, real-world testing of novel information and interaction applications based on “connected” physical objects. We hope that this “low tech” version of bridging the gap will allow the community of researchers, developers and motivated people to quickly develop and try out more realistic and widespread applications, and thus gain real-world experiences for better jump-starting the future internet of things, today.

In order to illustrate the potential of our BaToo toolkit for the recognition of EAN-13 barcodes using camera equipped standard mobile phones, we implemented some prototypical applications.


Realtime Recognition

This demo illustrates the realtime recognition of 1D barcodes on mobile phones.
Allergy Assistant Demo

This demo shows the prototypical implementation of a tool for checking ingredients in nutrition products that could trigger an allergic reaction. Using a retail goods database such as GS1 one can gain access to detailed allergen information of individual products, based on their EAN-13 code. Together with an individual shopper’s allergy profile, the application is able to warn the user of potential allergic reactions to an item with. The demo also shows how easy according applications can become from the user's point of view. 
Product Information

This demo illustrates how fast data can be aquired from different sources. Each time a barcode has been recognized, it will be sent to a server using the regular mobile phone network. The server will then query webservices offered by Amazon to obtain the current product's price and send the information back to the mobile phone, where it will be displayed.
Orientation Detection

This demo shows that additional parameters can be recognized from the barcode, besides the encoded barcode number. In this case, the relative orientation of the mobile phone to the code. Such additional parameters can be used to ease the user interaction. The video shows an orientation sensitive slider as well as a prototypical menu, in which the user can select different menu items by rotating the mobile phone.

More Information

More information is available on the BaToo Project Page.

This demo was created in February 2006.

See also the following related items:

Selected Publications

See the Publications of the Distributed Systems Group page for a full listing of our publications.

Related Student Projects

The following table lists corresponding student projects in our group. Note that some descriptions will be in German.

S Mobile Barcode Bettina PolasekRobert AdelmannWS 05/06
ETH ZurichDistributed Systems Group
Last updated January 1 1970 01:00:00 AM MET ko