Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Smartphone barcodes will finally be readable by all POS laser scanners

Direct from Mobile World Congress, 2013

Mobile couponing’s last barrier falls: Smartphone barcodes will finally be readable by all POS laser scanners

ams AG (SIX: AMS) and Mobeam announced yesterday they have formed a strategic partnership that will accelerate the ability of smartphones to transmit barcoded content that can be read by all point-of-sale (POS) laser scanners. The partnership will provide an integrated solution consisting of ams’ industry-leading light sensors and Mobeam’s light-based beaming technology. With this partnership, handset makers will be able to fully support mobile commerce applications that use barcodes such as: coupon redemption, loyalty cards, gift cards and tickets. For retailers, this will mean the end of manually sorting printed coupons, and waiting months for reimbursement. This solution is being demonstrated in the ams booth (6C40 - Hall 6) at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

Roughly 350 billion paper coupons are issued each year in the U.S., with a value of over $470 billion. Paper coupons consume 13 million trees every year, and 99% are actually never even used. The dream of paperless “mobile couponing” has remained elusive because the vast majority of in-store laser scanners cannot scan 1D barcodes displayed on mobile phones. The ams and Mobeam technology partnership gives handset makers the ability to finally overcome mobile couponing’s last technical barrier.

The ams and Mobeam technology solves the problem that has limited the advancement of mobile couponing, namely that smartphones utilize emissive displays from which a common POS barcode reader cannot capture barcode data. The partnership integrates Mobeam’s technology with ams’ digital light sensor optical module to provide smartphone vendors with a turn-key solution and differentiation without the need for additional components. The ams TMD3990 module utilizes the same type of proximity IR LED that is already used in smartphones today to disable the touch-screen display. This simplified approach will give handset makers the ability to capture all of the new opportunities taking root in mobile coupons and mobile commerce.

“The combination of Mobeam technology and ams sensors will give smartphone makers a single, accurate and powerful integrated solution to participate in the growing mobile couponing and mobile commerce markets,” said John Heugle, ams CEO. “Our customers look to us to help them create value and differentiation in their products and markets they serve, and we believe this relationship with Mobeam does just that.”

More than 500 million people around the world are expected to receive mobile coupons this year, a 30% increase from 2012. Efficient transfer of barcode data is essential to expand the mobile couponing market. Enabling consumers to use their smartphones to redeem digitized coupons will provide an eco-friendly solution, added convenience, and help to accelerate mobile commerce.

“We are incredibly excited to join forces with ams to help move the entire industry towards true mobile commerce,” said Chris Sellers, Mobeam CEO. “This partnership with ams will make it easier to integrate our cost-effective Mobeam technology in smartphones.”

Devices are currently being sampled by ams. Full production of the TMD3990, which combines Color Light Sensing, proximity detection and IR LED barcode transmit function, is scheduled for 3Q2013.