28 Jan 2003

virtual barcode scanner

i just had a bizzare idea. like many of my ideas, they come up while i'm in the crapper.

anyway, my idea is kind of like these thing people say with GPS scanners. making virtual notes according to GPS coordinates. but we all know that its not going to happen for a long time. i'm not seeing myself buying a phone with a GPS receiver or even making use of one, no matter how geeky or cool it is.

well, ok, let me tell you what the idea is. imagine if you're on a train, and you're bored. you notice a carriage number on the train, so SMS/WAP/Email the train number via your mobile to the virtual barcode service. the number maybe fairly short, say 4859-A or something, but its unique enough that the service will give you a reply saying, "this is train carriage 4859-A". now, thats not very special at all, but what if you could tag notes to that virtual barcode. say maybe someone 2 week ago was on this very carriage, and the note tells you not to sit on the last row because he/she saw someone puke all over the seats. or maybe someone else rants about how the couple next to them were making out. you could add notes yourself, and even see in real time who just entered the same barcode, maybe they are right beside you. think of the implications of a virtual barcode indexed message forum.

ok .. maybe i lost you. so let me clarify. basically, the service will index messages based on a barcode you enter. the barcode could be any number that you see around you. say a car license number, or a lamp post serial number, a chocolate bar barcode, a telephone number, anything. and the service will index your message according to that number, and that will be called your virtual barcode (or, lets give it a name vcode.) a user would enter this vcode into their mobiles and be able to retrieve what people have said about this code. maybe its a code for a brand of chocolate bar and someone has said, "you can get these cheap from sainbury", or "this really sucks." and you can leave your own message.

the benefit of such a system would be an ad-hoc way to index comments rather than using predefined sets, say like a GPS coordinate. you would be using vcodes that cover the whole country or something that is as specific as just a street corner. essentially, this vcode system would be an ad-hoc database of comments. it would be used solely for entertainment purposes.

think about being able to read what people have said about a restaurant, based on their telephone number, or a journey based on the train number. it would be like a cooperative blog.

anyway, thats just a little system i dreamed up. maybe worth looking into how it would be implemented, how these vcodes would work, whether a system like that would self-govern itself.

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