Amidst the new hardware and software inside Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 is one feature that emulates some decidedly old-school technology: the bar code.
Thanks to “light-based communications” technology from a company called Mobeam, the Galaxy S4 uses pulses of infrared light to essentially fool traditional scanners into thinking the light represents a barcode.
The reason I and others probably overlooked that as a useful new feature (apart from the nerdy coolness of it), is because it’s hard to see why you would be beaming bar codes at the supermarket checkout.
But then the light came on.
Galaxy S4 will be able to beam coupons, tickets, or anything else with a barcode to the estimated 165 million standard scanners around the world.
As for where users will get these barcodes, Mobeam partnered with Proctor and Gamble to jointly develop a mobile coupon system, and the Mobeam API will be available to developers shortly after launch.
Once it is, anyone wil be able to create Mobeam-enabled apps. It’s hard to say whether this has a chance at catching on — but launching on the Galaxy S4 certainly won’t hurt Mobeam’s chances at adoption.
Bar codes have in a sense been “read only” up to this point. The potential of this tech is quite phenomenal. Let’s see if it gets more traction than NFC has so far. The benefit of the bar code beaming is that it already interacts with existing readers, so it doesn’t need new hardware for it to gain usefulness.