RedLaser - UPC scanner for iPhone that works

Chris Caceres · May 13, 2009 · Short URL:

Occipital's new iPhone app snaps UPC barcodes and sends back prices and results to your phone

 One of the reasons we haven’t seen an accurate barcode scanner for the iPhone is due to its lack of a decent lens with auto focus.  Some developers have tried work arounds, like ScanLife, which went out of its way to create its own proprietary simple codes the iPhone lens could actually scan, but this app doesn’t work with the standard UPC and EAN we see on almost every product in our local stores, thus pretty useless.

Occipital, a startup based out of Boulder, CO., today has released RedLaser, a new iPhone app that can scan standard UPC barcodes simply with an iPhone camera.

Here’s what it does – let’s say you find a DVD you’re interested in checking out prices of, turn it around and on the back you’ll find the UPC bar code.  Yes, the one your friendly cashier usually scans.  Load up your RedLaser app, carefully frame up the bar code, and scan.  RedLaser then sends that information to Google product search and sends back results right to your iPhone.  Simple as that.  You can then click through to see Amazon results.

Jeffrey Powers, Co-Founder of Occipital explained the product works with basically any name-brand item including electronics, games, hardware and office supplies.  Groceries scan well but aren’t usually in the database at this point.  RedLaser will soon have support for books.   I tried it on several of my DVD’s and CD’s and got 100% accuracy.

 Although it works like a charm, you have to be pretty careful when you scan.   In order to function properly, you need to hold your iPhone a little over a foot in distance from the actual barcode.  On top of that, if you have really shaky hands forget about it because the barcode needs to stay inside the target, no zooming or closeups available.  These are the only requirements.  Once you get the hang of holding your iPhone steadily, don’t worry about the photo coming out unusable.  RedLaser compensates for blur, lighting and other image-degradations over on its own servers.    

This is just the start for Occipital.  Along with the release of RedLaser, it’s also released an SDK for its scanning technology, allowing iPhone developers to integrate it into their own applications.  It can be downloaded for free and a developer license can be purchased for $29.  Occipital announced that Applied Ambiguities, makers of a wine iPhone application called, will be integrating the scanning technology so users can scan bar codes and use its database of over 600,000 wines.

This app is a great way to find out prices and info on mainstream products making use of standard UPC/EAN bar codes.  RedLaser is available today in the app store for $1.99

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Occipital, LLC is a technology startup focused on mobile visual search, founded by University of Michigan alumni Jeffrey Powers and Vikas Reddy

Occipital was funded by seed-stage incubator TechStars in 2008, and is based in Boulder, Colorado.

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