Stop Us If You've Heard This One: Company 'Invents' Grocery Barcode Scanner

from the originality dept

Yet another sign that we might be in the midst of another bubble is the resurrection of failed ideas from the last bubble. This time around, it’s the barcode scanner that you use to build a grocery list. It’s “set to revolutionize your grocery shopping experience,” cries the headline on CrunchGear, just like the similar device Philips announced in 2001, a Bluetooth version announced in 2005, or the ever-popular “internet fridge” with its own built-in barcode scanner. Perhaps the writers over at CrunchGear are too young to remember the venerable CueCat, the gold standard for barcode-scanning failure — and which, of course, can be hacked to serve as a grocery scanner as well. This technology has existing for a long time, and that’s not what’s kept it from succeeding. It’s the fact that most of these services don’t provide much more utility for most people than a pen and notepad. But perhaps that’s where Ikan’s different, since it also lets you know if a scanned item’s packaging is recyclable, and which bin to put it in. Its founders claim on the company’s site that they “were uninformed about the correct methods of disposing the different types of rubbish” they generated from their grocery shopping. So, basically, they couldn’t figure out that plastics go in the bin for plastics, and metals in the bin for metals. Perhaps their penchant for recycling, but their apparent incompetence at it, lead them to bring the grocery scanner back for another failure.

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Comments on “Stop Us If You've Heard This One: Company 'Invents' Grocery Barcode Scanner”

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Tony B. says:

Barcode Scanners

Actually it shouldn’t be the barcode readers that you bashing, but the services that go with it. The barcode scanners (even the CueCat) do exactly what they are supposed to, scan a barcode and transmit it to a host. The problem is that very few have come out with decent apps to take advantage of it (, Delicious Moster). In order for a grocery app to take off it would need to be able to be used on your mobile phone. Basically you would keep a double inventory of items that are synced together. Your home computer would know what you had at home as long as you scanned everything in and out and then sync to your mobile device. When you go shopping scan items in and have it update your home computer when you get home. this would save you money in the long run as you would be able to run your food inventory like a restaurant.

Greg (user link) says:

I absolutely loathe the “Internet Fridge”. It’s the worst argument for pervasive computing I’ve ever heard, because it’s a hammer in desperate search of a nail, and yet it gets trotted out every time. This barcode scanner is close, though.

I almost bought a CueCat at a yardsale last year – some jerk scooped it up before I made up my mind to buy it, though. I really wanted one, because I’ve heard of some pretty interesting hacks for them.

Overcast says:

Dunno – I think a scanner on the fridge like that could be useful. If your fridge had a wireless connection and could store what you are out of in a database.

Even if you go to the store – it would help generate a list for you. Couple it with a recipe database and well – if it was done right, I think it might be a good idea, actually.

And I’m not sure I agree with the above – it might actually be better to have a ‘non-emotional’ list generated – how many times do people impulse buy junk at the store because they are hungry when they shop?

I don’t consider the grocery store exercise, it’s just a chore. Actually, I wish I had that extra hour per week to do something productive. But then, I try to not sit in from of the TV or Computer as a matter of habit to begin with.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re:

Absolutely correct about people and their impulse buys at the store. Hell, as Americans we’re damn near *bred* to make impulse buys thanks to our consumer-culture.

Nothing against a consumer-culture overall seeing as how if our economy fails, every country on the planet will fall right with us…..because we are the ones buying most of their goods.

I personally would love to see a barcode scanner on a fridge and a recipe ingredients list generator tied into a central computer that could then sync with a PDA/phone; add that to an online database of current stock in stores, and maybe their prices as well, and you have a damn good idea. It surely would make it a lot easier for me seeing as how I cook exotic dishes all the time and have been the victim of memory loss while at the store.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

What about the produce?

My tomatoes don’t have barcodes on them. End result, if you eat produce you are going to have to look in the fridge and make a note of what you need, go to your computer, get on a website, enter it all in, then go to the store. I think there are a lot more steps added to this process than having a magnetic pen and pad on your fridge door.

Gomorrah (profile) says:

Re: What about the produce?

your produce would work the same way that it does in the store. It may not have an actual barcode on it, but there is a number assigned to it (what they hit when you buy tomatoes). Now if this were synced with a computer program, before you went shopping you would sit down at your computer and double check everything, maybe take out an item you don’t want anymore that the kids put in, something similar to that. You check your produce, enter it in there that you want a half pound of cherry tomatoes, 4 ears of corn…… so on and so forth. It would be quite simple to add a produce ability to the program. Just go to your local Wal-Mart, see the self-checkout, you just find the produce you want and it weight it and charges you for it. Same thing, you would just get to choose how much you want.

Home Boy says:

I'd Like Something Like This

In my house, I’m the guy that makes the trip to the market. I’ve pretty much memorized where things are, but having a database and electronic map would be helpful.

The real time saver, though, will be when the shopping cart can act as the scanner for items put into it, and then dump the data at the checkout.

The ultimate solution will be RFID, but so many Luddites are slowing adoption of this great technology with fears of being tracked. Hey, if someone is really interested in what brand of baked beans or soup I buy, more power to them.

Haywood says:

Re: I'd Like Something Like This

“The real time saver, though, will be when the shopping cart can act as the scanner for items put into it, and then dump the data at the checkout.”

Albertson’s tried hand held scanners with a holster for it on the cart. The idea was that you scan as you go and download at checkout. It never worked out, as; it really wasn’t all that much faster at checkout, & most people resisted. Between that and really forcing you to use the self-check stands by never having more than one cashier, they nearly went out of business. They did get so weak that they were bought, but the sign stayed the same. I never go there, I travel past it a couple more miles to the Kroger’s which still has checkers and better prices as well.

Chris Maresca (user link) says:

I don't understand....

… are people really so thick that they can’t remember what they eat/use? Every time I go to the grocery store, I pretty much know what to buy, it’s not like it changes a huge amount over time. Except for veggies, which we buy at a corner store every couple of days…

Besides, it seems to me like this device hugely complicates shopping, not simplifies it… I mean, scan a bunch of garbage, go to your computer, edit the list, print it out, remember to take list to store. Hell, half the time I do the shopping on my way back from somewhere, on the spur of the moment, without a grocery list.

Then again, I don’t have a microwave or a TV in my house, so maybe I’m actually a Luddite. OTOH, with a dozen computers, maybe not…


trollificus says:

Chris M. has the right take.

Shopping is something that does not need to be made more complicated. It is something that people are generally competent to do, and those who are not, are not competent to take advantage of some device that requires scanning, syncing devices, and some kind of higher-level analysis to gain any benefit from.

Geek momentum pushes product development in strange directions sometimes. Perhaps we need to modify the Field of Dreams saying…”If you build it, they may well say ‘Why the hell would I use this??'”

fboy says:

These guys are claiming to have diferent features from CueCat.
A self standing Wifi scanner to be placed next to where you discard products.
No Sync. No missing scanner. And they claim to have a Voice Recogn sys to deal with non barcoded items.
If they make it happens it could do to the grocery shopping what IPOD did to music.
In fact Ipod did not have different features from the Rio players. Just better capacity and UI.
And they revolucionize the music industry…

Peter Ha (user link) says:

Read Between The LInes

Carlo, maybe you don’t quite get my sarcasm, but I think this is a terrible product. Not only do grocery delivery services not work in areas other than condensed metropolis’ like NYC, but this isn’t a new idea either. I may have excluded CueCat from my story, but I surely thought that people would ‘read between the lines’.

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