Occipital enabling iPhones to scan barcodes

Chris Caceres · September 24, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/acb

It's been a long road, but app developers can finally make use of Occipital's RedLaser technology

Things are looking good again for Boulder, Co.-based startup, Occipital

DailyBurn, (previously known as Gyminee) on Wednesday became the first 3rd party iPhone application to implement Occipital's bar-code scanning technology and land in the App Store.

But it's been a turbulent ride for Occipital to get this far.

In a not-so-surprising turn of events, Apple's policies changed, and Occipital's RedLaser - an app that essentially turned the device into a bar-code scanning laser - was rejected. Apple was having issues with developers overlaying graphics onto the camera screen of the iPhone. 

We covered Occipital back in May of this year, when it launched the app, which tapped into the not so powerful iPhone 3G camera, and let users scan pretty much any main stream product, like DVD's, books and CD's, and then sent back price comparisons and details of the product they were interested in.

Three months of waiting and Apple finally released iPhone OS 3.1, re-approving Occipital's app along with all the other developers that were undergoing similar issues.

"We think things are slowly starting to change in the App store, in terms of Apple's communications with developers, the ability for us to get an actual response," Jeffrey Powers, co-founder of Occipital told me. "We've witnessed this first hand, believe it or not, when we first started we'd go an entire week without hearing from Apple, and now we have somebody there we can call." 

So what is Occipital exactly out to achieve and win over with other app developers?  Well now that its RedLaser technology has be re-approved, it's out to get companies to build apps that make use of its scanner.  DailyBurn, now available in the store, is a food journaling application.  There's already plenty of them out there, but DailyBurn is trying to differentiate itself by instead of having users punch in all the information on every single thing they eat, instead, simply scan the bar code of that bag of chips and add it to their calorie tracker.  

 Powers told us Occipital's database currently has over 1 million bar codes. "On day one of launch you can scan almost anything in your cabinet," said Powers.

Along with DailyBurn, Occipital will also serve as the technology behind an app soon to be released called Corkz, which will integrate the RedLaser technology so users can scan wine bottles to get pricing, ratings and pairing information.  

"It's been an experimental business model in the App store, because we are trying to see if you can build a component, license it out, and actually make some revenue off of it," shared Powers on how he plans to grow his business.  Although he couldn't disclose the exact details on the agreement between his company and DailyBurn, he did explain that officially, if a 3rd party developer uses Occipital's SDK, Occipital would ask for a 10% rev share on gross app price.  If the application were released as free, Occipital asks for 10 cents per install, price going down depending on volume. 

Currently, Occipital's RedLaser is ranked number 38 in top paid apps on the App Store.  It sells for $1.99 and has been downloaded over 50,000 times (not all at the $1.99 price point).  Although there are several bar code scanning applications available on the 3GS now (like Cyclops and VisionSmarts) due to auto-focus in the new camera, Occipital's technology works without the need of auto-focus - so it works on the older 3G model as well.

As for the future, Occipital plans to carry out its business of selling the RedLaser component to 3rd party developers while continuing to build out its technology - perhaps some item recognition, like pointing at an item without a barcode, like a banana, and identifying it.

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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.