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Day 6 - IFA International

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Trade News Building the

Trade News Building the better barcode Accessories company G&BL packs product with metadata Cristian Coianiz shows off G&BL’s packaging metadata G&BL, an Italian accessories company with a wide variety of audio-video cable products, fashion bags and By Michael Dumiak The ubiquity of smartphones mixed with a newlook update on barcode technology will add a new dimension to marketing communication – and it’s starting to emerge on the show floor. wall mounts, is showing an oversized barcode-like patch called a QR code at its IFA stand. The code technology was created by a Toyota subsidiary called Denso-Wave in 1994 – and it’s taken this long for handheld CE devices to catch up with it. Wave an app-enabled smartphone at the modular code – a black square pattern on a white background – and it will read the information using the phone camera. It acts as a real-world hyperlink to wherever you want to direct the reader. “This delivers a service to the shops, and from the shops to our customers,” said G&BL marketing manager Cristian Coianiz. “Nobody thought this tool could be used for selling, but it will be.” Coianiz reported that G&BL is now printing new packaging that features QR coding. Its wall mounts and cables are among the 300 products that already have QR coding on the package, and Coianiz thinks 80% of the company’s products will have such a package label by January. That the coding is starting to appear on business cards – Sharp’s entire media kit, for example, is nothing more than a written link and a QR code – suggests the idea is ready for wider acceptance. It is easy to get a QR app on the iPhone (i-nigma makes one); a fair number of Android phones come with the readers already installed and Blackberry users are already familiar with barcode-style scan reading. It is part of a range of new consumer uses for near field communication – the wireless data transfer between cheap, printable or chippable objects and handheld readers. Twenty years after the first US president Bush lost reelection in part because he did not how a supermarket cash register could scan a barcode, spectrum scanning for inventory and supply chain management – keeping digital track of things – is everywhere. As data security gets better and both smartphones and sensors get cheaper and vastly more capable, this is moving to consumerfacing applications. We chip our dogs and they can be scanned if they get lost. Chips called RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification) now cost pennies and can be used everywhere – for example, in the successful Oyster Card contactless payment programme in London, UK. The tags are used in everything, from being nailed into timber in order to track inventory to alerting a ‘smart’ single-shot coffeemaker to sense the type of coffee being made, and change the temperature and milk type accordingly. Now they will serve as mobile tags and hard links, showing that the old CueCat system – a failed and widely mocked late Nineties attempt at getting magazine readers to scan barcoded hyperlinks off a page using a special reader – may have the last laugh. It is just that the readers are now in our phones, and our phones are always with us. It is easier to snap an image than fish out a pen and paper to write down a URL. The QR codes are starting to show up in big-box stores, such as Media Markt, to promote specials. “This is outside of logistics now,” G&BL’s Coianiz said. “It is made for communication with customers.” Or with other people. As Robin Wauters reported in TechCrunch earlier this year, it is only a matter of time before you can wear a t-shirt with a QR code printed on it linking to your Facebook profile. A printed QR code can store much more data than the barcode, as well as link to web pages THE DEAL MAKERS Hungaro Flotta is a Hungarian wholesaler supplying the east European markets with navigation systems and e-book readers. “IFA is important, and the timing of it is perfect” Andrej Lukács, Export Manager Hungaro Flotta What is your reason for coming to IFA? Coming to IFA is a very cost-effective way in which to meet our partners. It’s also a unique opportunity to meet with Chinese manufacturers. And we come to discover the new trends and products that will drive our strategy for the following year. How long do you stay and how many appointments do you have? We are here for two days. I had four appointments on Monday and a business dinner. How has sustainable development been affecting your buying decisions? Sustainability is not a key argument in the devices and navigation systems market, especially in eastern European markets, which are very price-sensitive. What kind of products are you looking for at IFA? We are following the MID (Mobile internet devices) market and we also launch products here. Major brands find it difficult to launch localised product in eastern Europe, so we have a great opportunity here to launch product tailored to our customers needs in terms of language, data and accurate maps. We will certainly launch a local product following the launch of the Samsung Galaxy, and we are also launching an e-book reader with local languages and a lower price point. How important is IFA for you? IFA is important, and the timing of it is perfect. Cebit is just before the May-June period’ which is important for us, and IFA is just before the end-of-year quarter. www.ifa-international.org IFA International • Wednesday, 8 th September 2010 41

IFA International