Innovations That Matter

Snap it up!


Japanese Mediastick combines smart barcodes and super-camera phones to facilitate instant purchases.

The SEE-HEAR-BUY trend shows no signs of slowing down. This month’s shining star? Japanese Mediastick, which will soon enable consumers to shop by simply snapping a (mobile phone) picture of the object of their desire. How does it work? • Participating etailers display Mediastick’s special barcode next to their products (whether in magazines, newspapers, TV commercial or even on websites). • Consumers snap a picture with their camera-enabled mobile phone, then send the pic to a dedicated Mediastick phone number. • Mediastick’s technology extracts the barcode, figures out what product needs to be purchased, sends the customer’s details to the etailer, who bills and ships, using the customer’s billing information on file with the mobile phone operator. OK, this sounds complicated, but on the front end, the only thing a consumer needs to do is snap and send, then wait for delivery. To users, the service will be free: Mediastick will take a cut from the etailers’ revs. As the technology only works with a new, high resolution camera-phone, not expected to hit the Japanese market full-force before early next year, roll out will initially be slow. Trials start this month, with one of the key partners being NTT, whose high-resolution camera phones, the SH505i and F505i, both with barcode decoders, support the service. (Sources: CNet, LookJapan, NikkeiBP.)


Our Springspotters alert us to a new SEE HEAR BUY concept every week now, and while initiatives like Mediastick may or may not prosper, Springwise believes we’re witnessing a second chance for a lot of intriguing ‘high-tec’ shopping concepts. Mass and tech are finally coming together, building on the current mass of sophisticated consumers who ‘get’ new technology. As long as the services appeal to real consumers’ needs (like instant gratification for Mediastick, or instant solutions for ZingoTaxi), creative dreaming should be permitted a comeback. Oh, and one more on the topic of mass and tech: don’t forget to keep an eye on those new MegaPixel camera-phones: if slow uptake of MMS (sending pics from and to camera-phones) in Europe and the US is first and foremost due to the limited number of people actually owning a camera-phone, surely the lousy quality of these first-generation pics comes a good second. Stay tuned, and stay sharp!


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