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May 20, 2013

GS1 and Open Mobile Alliance Team to Bring Intelligent Barcode Scanning to Mobile Devices

Further enabling the utility of mobile devices by giving applications developers the ability to allow their apps to scan and link to trusted content has been both a goal and an obstacle for the wireless industry. For this reason, the announcement that not-for-profit supply chain standards group GS1 and the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) are collaborating to enable barcode scanning features built directly into mobile devices commands attention. 

Indeed, this is noteworthy because GS1 manages the system of product barcodes used by close to two million companies on billions of products across the world. For its part, OMA offers a wide range of specifications and application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable mobile services, which includes the popular OMA DM (device management) that has been deployed on more than 1.4 billion devices.

It is also noteworthy given industry trends. For example, according to comScore, more than half the U.S. smartphone population used their phones in 2011 to perform product research while shopping in stores, while one in five scanned a barcode and one in eight compared prices on their phones.

“Mobile data is growing exponentially and barcode scanning is a key driver for consumers to access data and media owners to engage users. Today, the industry is working with a barcodes ecosystem that is fragmented by non-standard solutions. This specification will enable application developer innovation for the mCommerce and mobile advertising industry, allowing companies to develop interoperable and scalable applications,” commented Bryan Sullivan, OMA Board of Directors vice-chairman.

A new specification that packs a punch

As mentioned, scanning has become an integral part of many peoples’ shopping experience. It allows them to do point of sale comparative shopping as well as obtain more information on potential purchases. GS1 and OMA will be developing a new specification that leverages existing GS1 and OMA standards. The new specification will allow mobile device manufacturers and operators to build mobile devices with the following key bar code scanning capabilities:

  • Universal scanning of standardized barcodes
  • Built-in code scanning capability  accessible to users manually through the device camera, and also to applications thanks to a Web API exposed on the device
  • Intelligent linking of barcodes with trusted content provided by the owners of the barcodes
  • Support for collection of user analytics including location on an opt-in basis

For apps developers it will simplify and accelerate deployment of applications that use code scanning by providing:

  • More flexible integration of code scanning into applications
  • Seamless and more consistent user experience  reduced time to market: common standards and enablers will reduce both complexity and development costs

The goal is not just to make it easier from developers but to provide a means for them to make the customer experience more intuitive and easy to use.

“Our consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to research and purchase products. This new specification will allow more consumers to access accurate and trusted product information to help them with their daily lives,” said John Phillips, SVP Customer Supply Chain and Logistics at PepsiCo.

The two organizations are projecting the launch of the new specification in 2014. They are encouraging companies to join initial participants Fujitsu, NEC and AT&T in developing the specification. In fact, for details on how to participate, contact Cameron Green or Kennie Kwong. In addition, you might wish to mark your calendars to listen to a live streamed webinar on mobile codes and NFC that is being hosted by OMA in Dublin, Ireland and will include GS1. 

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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