Barcodes for the World of Ends
By Eric Lin, Wed May 05 07:45:00 GMT 2004

An adept Symbian programmer has created a way for end users to create barcodes containing a URL. The twist is that anyone can create or read a barcode.

Encoding a URL in a barcode is nothing new- long-time Wired readers may remember receiving a CueCat in the mail years ago. Other companies have recently proposed using barcodes as method for getting URLs and other data into mobile devices, though so far they have only been used in Asia.

Scanbuy and Neomedia have both proposed using barcodes for comparison shopping and other applications. To use these applications, users snap a picture of a barcode with a cameraphone, and send the data to Scanbuy or Neomedia, who then return the price or URL or other data.

Alan Reiter explains Semacode differs from these other systems because end users can create as well as decode the barcodes. It's not quite open source, but Semacode uses a 2D barcode called Datamatrix that is public domain, and available to anyone for a small fee. The developer, Simon Woodside, has created a Java applet for anyone to encode a URL in a barcode. Users can then point a Series 60 smartphone at the barcode, snap a picture of it in the application, and click to open the URL in an HTML browser such as Opera.

Thanks to Woodside end users can create as well as decode URL barcodes. But because Datamatrix is also open, other programmers could easily extend Semacode to encode and transmit other types of data.