As PCI standards have become more stringent, there’s been some hesitation from retailers and restaurant owners. Ensuring your business is compliant can be expensive, and the standards have been a relatively mobile target over the years. One of the big ones on the horizon is table-side payment, which can be a tremendous cost, including mobile computers and software to take payment.

But the upside is your customers can be certain that their card isn’t being compromised, like in this KIRO article of a Red Robin employee skimming cards and then making major purchases with the card data. If you don’t feel like checking out the nitty gritty of the article, the employee had a secondary card reader, probably something that paired with her phone or maybe a custom built device to batch store card data. When she’d ring up the customers, she’d also swipe the card in the device and have all the info needed to perform online purchases.

This is usually the portion of the post where I talk about the great products that make it easy to have table-side payment. And there are some options available, such as the Motorola MC40, or mobile card readers for iOS & Android devices. But the big thing is that these kind of situations can cause problems for business owners, such as an increase in liability insurance, or increased processing fees. So while meeting PCI standards can have a steep initial investment, in the long term you are definitely going to save money and provide a safer and better experience for your customers.

Mobile couponing has been growing as way for retailers to offer convenient savings for their customer base. Rather than haul a pile of coupons to the store, you just load up a text message or email or whatever and scan at checkout. This also allows retailers to track coupon usage, as you can send custom codes to specific customers and see which ones work and which don’t.

Unfortunately, laser barcode scanners can’t read barcodes on LCD screens. They calculate barcode data based on the laser light reflected back and all they really get back from a glass screen is reflection. Mobeam is trying to remedy this and have a solution that will be in the Samsung Galaxy S 4, according to Engadget. Their technology has to be baked into the phone, and when it’s time to scan, the phone flashes light in a certain pattern that tricks the scanner into treating is as reflected barcode data.

This technology would’ve been terrific 5 or 6 years ago, but linear imager technology has advanced to the point that a scanner such as the Honeywell Hyperion 1300g or Motorola LI4278 can read off LCD screens without much trouble. There’s also the problem that phone manufacturers have to opt in to add this functionality, and customers have to buy compatible phones. I’m not sure  if they’re going to hit critical mass with one Android phone supporting their technology.

The migration to imaging technology in data capture seems inevitable at this point. Even those big grocery scales are getting updated to support imaging in one or both scanning planes, such as the Honeywell Stratos 2700 and Motorola MP6000. I could see this being a viable technology for low-resolution feature phones, since they’d have trouble displaying the barcode properly. And I guess for retailers who don’t feel ready to move to imagers it’s a smart choice. But at the point almost every major retailer with in-counter laser scanning also has an imager, either 1D or 2D, hanging out as an alternative.

Engadget is at CES, where they have gotten video of Corning’s new Gorilla Glass 3 glass. It’s great to see tech demos outside of a controlled R&D office environment, especially of a product I imagine will be showing up in new enterprise tablets and mobile computers this year. Also Corning’s attention to detail in their stress test ramp is fantastic, I guess if high impact polymers don’t work out for them, they can do fantastic woodwork.

[Source – Engadget]

QR Code Hotel

October 3, 2012

QR Code HotelBecause all my friends claim I “work on barcodes,” they send me links to goofy data capture stuff they come across. Sometimes it’s great fodder for sharing, like this poast at The New Aesthetic about a hotel room decorated in QR codes.

The Modez Hotel in the Dutch city of Arnhem sports this room, where everything, curtains, comforter, you name it, is covered in QR codes of varying sizes. I doubt these were designed to take advantage of regular 2D barcode scanners and are really for you to scan with your smartphone, as the codes take you to more… risqué content: steamy written messages, pictures, etc.

QR codes aren’t necessarily controversial, but there is a lot of pushback from various tech outlets. It’s great to see them used in a unique and useful way, as it provides a good counter to many of the poorly implemented QR codes out there.

Given that you’re reading this, you exist on the internet and have undoubtedly heard Apple’s iPhone 5 and 5th gen iPod Touch will come equipped with the new Lightning connector, replacing the older dock connector that’s been around for quite some time. While the connector sounds intriguing and should provide more space in iDevices for things like radios and laserbeams, it does put a hurt on an already growing mobile POS platform.

We sell some great mobile barcode scanners and mobile card readers, adding more whenever there’s time, and many of these use the dock connector. For some of the products, such as the MagTek iDynamo and Mobilogics iScan, the adapter should work to provide a stop gap until the peripherals are updated, but it does extend out the peripheral and increases the risk for damage to the iPhone or iPod.

However, there are some sled devices, most notably the Honeywell Captuvo, that currently lock in around 4th gen iPod Touches. In these instances, the adapter won’t fit, limiting your options to hoarding 4th gen iPod Touches until they also adjust the connector.

While this development is far from the end of iOS-based mobile POS, it does hamper the growth of this relatively new market. Many of our customers have had tremendous interest in using their iPhone or iPod to manage inventory or ring up customers, and we’ll just have a short span of time while peripheral manufacturers catch up. This is the first time for me, though, where Apple’s strong secrecy around new products has directly affected my work.

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