Camworld: “Hmmm, would it be useful to be able to use your cell phone to scan bar-codes? I think so. A few years back when I was working at we were pushing hard for the management to accept the idea of letting customers in the stores use portable bar-code scanners to build a “digital library” (by walking around the store and scanning books, movies and music) that they could then upload to their user profile at one of the Internet-enabled kiosks that were being installed into the stores. Needless to say the management looked at us like we were insane but it's still a good idea and as technology like this becomes more an more integrated into everything we do, we'll probably start to see more retail stores adapt technology like this to provide cool differentiating services or their customers.”

This is truly an excellent idea, and I'm surprised Borders didn't go for it (and still hasn't apparently). When I go there, I take my Palm and make a list of what I've found, but then I take that data with me and often I order from Amazon or Ingram using it. If Borders let me scan the ISBNs and UPC codes, they could be part of that loop and help me create and maintain my Amazon-like wish list on their site.

It's also an excellent idea for libraries. Everybody derided the CueCats, but I saw potential for libraries. If you could scan the code for any book, CD, movie, etc. and have that search the online catalog or create a wish list within the catalog, that could have been helpful for patrons. We could then help them find relevant links and items based on those items. We could also made the process for requesting an item or putting a hold on an item that much easier.

In the scenario in the article Cam points to, it would be interesting to keep libraries in that loop so that you could scan a product's barcode and then read the review, whether it's from Consumer Reports in the library's database offerings, a book review, a music review, or a company history. Or search the library's catalog and “check out” the digital file on loan for two weeks (ebooks, MP3s, digital video, etc.). With GPS required in cell phones for future E-911 services, it would be relatively easy to zero in on your local library's services. [The Shifted Librarian]

I've heard there's some interest within Borders in favor of this idea.

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