Accessibility Tools





This is a free app for iPhone and Android mobile devices that lets users attach digital content to any barcode or QR code – including audio, URLs, video, photos PDFs, zips, music and text. Unlike ScanLife – which uses individual codes for content – Stickybits lets users attach information to any existing barcode (including store products) or create their own individual code. Stickybits uses RedLaser camera phone scanning technology (RedLaser can also be downloaded as a separate app). Other Stickybits users can see attached content when they scan the barcode with their phone.

Stickybits functions as a social network and requires users to create an online account. Users can ask to be alerted when someone else scans a barcode they've attached content to. Since product URLs are all the same, users can attach and see information on things like Pepsi cans without finding the exact can that someone tagged. Users can also share their location when they tag something. Other users can see where things have been tagged and go find them to scan, which gives the app a bit of a scavenger hunt quality.

Stickybits has just introduced a feature called Official Bits that pegs some information, for example Pepsi's advertising information, to the top of the Stickybits list. When users scan a Pepsi product, Pepsi's content shows up first and then other users' content. Users can vote unofficial bits up or down in the list and can talk to each other in a forum.


TechCrunch reviewed it favourably, describing Stickybits as a way to turn physical objects into “personal message boards.” They framed it as giving histories to physical objects. The review also summed up some additional features:

The app lets you follow people and see their object stream [what they have scanned], or get notified whenever one of your objects is scanned, moved, or new bits are attached to them. You can toggle between stream and map views. It supports facebook Connect for login and any scan can be broadcast out to Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare. With Foursquare, it actually gives you the option to check into the place where you are by scanning the barcode.

App Judgment gave it a favourable review but noted a few downsides. One, is that the social network is relatively small. Since only Stickybits users can scan and attach bits this app needs a large audience to make it worthwhile. Some users on the stickybits wiki had a few other suggestions, such as making the geotagging less specific. This would let people geotag at home, without giving their address out to the world. There are still some bugs to work out, but the app is still quite new and has a lot of potential.


The San Diego Zoo installed “Mobile Sharing Stations” at its Reptilemania exhibit. They placed boards up at enclosures that promoted Foursquare (letting users try to become Mayor of that location), ScanLife (a large EZCode gives more information about the animal when scanned), and Stickybits. A large UPC code lets Stickybits users share their comments about the exhibit, upload a photo or video of themselves there, ask a question, etc. http://blog.stickybits.com/post/1139076896/stickybits-at-the-zoo

Future Directions:

One possibility for oral historians would be to team up with Stickybits in order to post Official Bits on objects or Stickybits stickers. This would ensure that audio/video or text content would remain prominent and would allow users to leave their responses to the information presented. However, I'm not sure how much this might cost.

Like ScanLife, historians could physically mark POIs with Stickybits stickers to create walking tours. The tour could be sequential or allow users to choose their own path by using Stickybits map function to find other geotagged objects.

Another possibility is to simply scan product codes and leave meaningful stories involving that object for other users. Although, if it is a branded product, these stories might get lost if a lot of users attach bits to it. Historians could instead attach specific bar codes to physical objects (a book, for example) in an exhibit that could link to interviews or video explaining the personal significance of that object. Visitors could then leave their comments and reactions.

I see three main differences between ScanLife and Stickybits. The first is that Stickybits lets users use any code and provides free codes to print out online (or vinyl stickers for $10). The other is that Stickybits does not just impart information to users, it asks for users to react to what they have found. On the other hand, Stickybits gives less control over content unless you pay to become an Official Bit. Finally, ScanLife is available to a wider audience since it doesn't require users to join a closed social network. 


App Judgment video:


San Diego Zoo:




Concordia University