In the late 1990s, DigitalConvergence.:Com (now-defunct) developed a barcode reader named :CueCat, which is a cat-shaped handheld barcode reader. The :CueCat enabled people to link to an Internet website by scanning a 1D barcode. It’s a cool idea. But, the commercial was failed, because they used proprietary data format which being scrambled. The other problem is privacy issue. Each :CueCat device has a unique serial number to profiling and tracking of users. As Joel Spolsky said, the whole business model is actually a Chicken and Egg Syndrome. You just can not make people use a system they don’t trust, and the manufacturer will not pay to license the ability to create the proprietary barcodes for a system nobody uses. :CutCat was selected as top 10 worst products at 2005 by CNET. For more information about :CutCat, please visit How to Neuter a :Cat.
It’s not a good idea to create a proprietary system for mass market, even the devices are free giveaway. Only public standard can survive on the market. QRCode is one of examples which is widely used in Japan, and soon in Taiwan and China. QRCode is kind of 2D barcode which can store more information then 1D barcode. For example, you can store addresses and URLs in QRCode. In Japan, it’s increasingly common in magazines and advertisements. Another common use is putting QR Code on business cards, it’s greatly simplifying the task of entering the personal details into the phone book of one’s mobile phone. There are some companies provide business cards design services with QR Code. (Ex: ＱＲコード名刺！スピード印刷！ぷりんと王国) For more information about QRcode, please read my another entry mobile barcode (It’s in Chinese, Sorry. But you can read the images and video. 🙂 ).