Accessibility Tools





From the Scanbuy website:

The ScanLife mobile application converts a typical camera phone into a universal barcode reader. With one scan, the application can automatically link to a specific website, launch a video, dial a phone number, and more.

The application is available to millions of phones around the world and is also being pre-loaded on new phones in Europe, North America and South America.

They have built free apps that work for most phone manufacturers, that work with all mobile browsers and can read DataMatrix, EZCode, QR Code and some UPC barcodes (it depends on the phone's zoom capabilities).

Users can also create their own EZ codes on ScanLife's website (www.scanlife.com) – although users have to register as either an individual, small-medium business, large business or agency/reseller. Individual accounts are free but the company doesn't list pricing until you register. The small-medium business Terms of Use notes that companies are charged based on industry and size (number of employees). Companies are also charged based on the number of scans – a basic one-year contract includes 5,000 scans. The EZ codes can be terminated or re-assigned without notice if no one has scanned them for 365 days.

QMCODES is a mobile marketing company mainly aimed at print media. It provides a free platform, Q-Lytics, that lets users create 2D technology campaigns and track how many hits their codes receive, how many individual hits, the locations hit, and handset carrier information. This could be useful to oral historians as it would allow them to create codes for free and see who is scanning them (and where). The website doesn't provide a lot of information unless you register for an account (they are rebranding as link.me soon). As a result, it seemed unnecessary to create a separate information sheet. Further, there are a number of online bar code companies that provide codes and related services. GoMo News created a list of 34 (noting the key services provided) that I have listed in the bibliography. Kaywa is another site that may be useful and was positively reviewed by App Judgment.


No one has discussed ScanLife specifically on H-Net. I was also unable to find any discussion on the history or Oral-Hist discussion groups about bar code readers.


In 2008, Discovery Audio (formerly Antenna Audio) – a leading audio tour provider mainly for museums and galleries – teamed up with Scanbuy to “provide audio clips of local San Francisco landmarks right to an individuals'[sic] mobile pone. This content has historically required hardware rentals from locations like museums and galleries.”

From Scanbuy's press release:

In partnering with Scanbuy, Antenna Audio is hoping to drive users
of mobile devices to access destination relevant content using ScanLife 2D technology as they explore the city”, said Sarah Dines, Managing Director of Antenna Audio for the Americas. “Our goal is to provide a first-rate audio experience for every user, and this mobile  technology is a fantastic way to bring tours to as many people throughout San Francisco as possible.”

There is a video that gives a very brief glimpse of Discovery/Antenna Audio's approach at: http://www.scanlife.com/atlantis/examples.html under videos and then under Citysearch. In brief, they seem to have placed 2D codes on large signs (approximately the size of those found in bus shelters) that linked users to different audio clips. The audio clips presented information about different neighbourhoods in San Francisco.

BeQRious – a QR code (propaganda-like) blog – notes another audio tour project using 2D technology (though it doesn't specify whether ScanLife was involved). The Arts Council of Napa Valley used QR codes to create an ARTwalk audio tour of ten sculptures set up in downtown Napa Valley. The brochure (available on-line) has QR codes next to each sculpture's identifying information that grant access to audio content.

Future Directions:

Many blogs and reviews seem to believe that it is just a matter of time before 2D codes are ubiquitous in day-to-day life. Indeed, the fact that many phones now have bar reader technology built-in illustrates the confidence of manufacturers that this technology will be mainstream soon. ScanLife's ability to read all 2D codes removes a major technological hurdle – choosing which code to use.

Oral historians could use 2D codes to physically mark memories on or near landmarks that would allow users to download audio content, photos, text and videos  -- anything that you can embed on a website. This could allow for accidental discoveries as well as guided tours through memory. They could also print QR codes on printed material, such as maps, programmes, or posters to allow individuals to access more content. Companies have also printed codes on t-shirts and business cards; there are clearly a lot of possibilities to explore.

Cost could be a factor – ScanLife seems to have a user-friendly platform but the lack of pricing information is frustrating. There are other websites that let individuals create free QR codes but they don't appear to have the same kind of customer support.


Antenna Audio:

Arts Council of Napa Valley ARTwalk:

BeQRious: http://www.beqrious.com/show/qr-code-loads-audio-tour-at-artwalk-in-napa-valley

GoMo News Review:





Concordia University