Barcode Reader & Real-Time Web Services

App-users can scan, validate and post barcode data, timestamps, GPS locations, photos and form data using iOS and Android cameras – no scanning accessories are required. 

Today we launched a Postback URL tool allowing captured data to be automatically inserted into QuickBase – a customizable, third-party database service hosted in the cloud.

We aim to improve data capture and collection with fast scanning, the convenience of using the just the cameras of iOS and Android devices and now the automated insertion of captured data into cloud-based databases like QuickBase.

The app creates formal scan records consisting of the barcode value and associated data, including timestamps, location, visual evidence and the answers to conditional questions presented to the app-user after each scan.

If the app-user’s device has Internet connectivity, scan records are inserted in real-time. Alternatively, if network or Wi-Fi connectivity is slow or unavailable, scan records are stored on the device until connectivity is restored.

Fast, Accurate Barcode Scanning

Our app’s SD PRO camera-based scan engine can read 47 different barcode symbologies, including those printed on IDs, badges, tickets, industrial assets, consumer goods, invoices, receipts, packing lists, shipping labels, etc. It can quickly and accurately scan virtually any barcode, even the most complex, small and badly damaged ones

On the reporting side, our clients use our servers to view, filter, export and share their scan records in template form. However, a number of clients also wanted to insert those records directly into third-party databases. We enabled that with our API but that requires coding. Launching our QuickBase tool is the first of many we will offer in the coming months that require no coding.

Please look here for instructions for setting up your Postback to QuickBase.

” … more than 100,000 hours of current combined study time data from nearly 10,000 unique students is utilized in 1st year program research and other university retention and engagement studies.”

EMU Sign

[This is a follow-up to the original case study.]

The Holman Success Center at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) began utilizing codeREADr’s services in the fall of 2012. Since then, we have logged a total of 144,790 scans. codeREADr has become an integral part of our daily operations, seamlessly and easily providing accurate, real-time data from numerous areas of the campus that had previously presented complicated logistical issues.

With an ability to design and deploy mobile data collection processes almost instantly, it has been easy for the Holman Success center to expand the use of this system into numerous other administrative areas of the university.  What began as two (2) scanning devices tracking attendance in a small study tables room, has grown to 140 scanning devices collecting and measuring data from dozens of different types of events and activities all across a campus that supports over 23,000 students.

An example of just a few of the ways we utilize the codeREADr system at EMU:

Study Tables Attendance

Tracks the total number of sessions and amount of time each student attends.  Accuracy is critical here for a number of student populations.  The Athletics department reports their student-athlete hours to the NCAA for compliance purposes, and we also track students who have attendance requirements based on academic probation standards.  Aside from these uses, the more than 100,000 hours of current combined study time data from nearly 10,000 unique students is utilized in 1st year program research and other university retention and engagement studies.

General Education Requirements

Students at Eastern Michigan University are required to attend a number of activities such as plays, speaking engagements and other social events in order to earn requisite Gen Ed credits.  codeREADr has been and continues to be used to provide an easy “check-in” solution for many of these events.

EMU Rewards Program

As additional motivation to become engaged with the university, we incentivize students to attend sporting events and other social campus activities by offering various prizes and rewards (ranging from free sunglasses to a free semester’s worth of tuition) for participation.  We integrate codeREADr data with other systems to determine point allocations and prize redemption status.  This has been particularly effective in terms of bringing Athletics and Academics together to achieve common goals.

Book Loaner Program

Many of today’s college texts are expensive, so the Holman Success Center provides the highest-demand texts for students to “check out” at our study tables locations.  QR code labels are created for each text and the system scans them in and out each time they are in use.  Not only does this allow us to monitor inventory easily (all texts still accounted for) but also to measure frequency of usage and other helpful metrics like dates and time of day.

Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction

As part of our academic support role, we offer students free drop-in-tutoring and supplemental instruction for our highest demand courses that present the most common challenges (like Math and Sciences).  By tracking attendance at these sessions we are able to accurately determine which courses to offer, staffing levels and schedules.  This data is also being used for research in terms of participation in relation to G.P.A. and other academic metric benchmarks.

Overall, we couldn’t be happier with the codeREADr system and how it continues to simplify our processes.  It’s extremely light footprint offers minimal hardware expense, an intuitive interface that makes personnel training a snap, and an easily administrated back end with flexible reporting output.  On top of all of these things, the leadership and technical support that codeREADr provides is best-in-class, developing customized functionality and helping us to develop and refine many of the processes we use every day.  It is a critical component to how we do business and with an upcoming admit class that is projecting to be the biggest in Eastern Michigan University’s 165 year history, will only continue to grow in scope and application.

John Williams
Technical Specialist
Eastern Michigan University

nrc voucher

Supporting dignified choices – ‘Paper Plus’ cash voucher programming in camps in Jordan

On March 4, 2015 the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) addressed the Inter Agency Standing Committee in Geneva, the foremost coordinating body in the humanitarian assistance sector and chaired by a UN High Commissioner, on the subject of their voucher projects in Jordan.

According to Roger Dean, the cash and voucher coordinator for NRC Jordan, the presentation was well received and added, “We’ve created quite a stir here.”  [We wrote about the NRC’s innovative projects several months ago (read here).]

The codeREADr team is proud to support such a worthy cause. Congratulations to Roger, NRC’s management and their entire team.

A copy of the presentation can be found here:

2015-03 NRC – Paper Plus cash voucher programming in camps in Jordan

Excerpts from the presentation: Read the rest of this entry »

codereadr icon on app

Event Promoters Merge Ticket and Voucher IDs into One Validation Database

The use of ticket resellers is common in the ticketing industry. Most mainstream resellers coordinate their sales with the ticketing company responsible for the event. Using that model, all ticket IDs are stored in a single validation database.

However, event promoters sometimes use non-integrated sales channels to promote their events. Tickets sold by those marketing services – such as Living social and Groupon – are often sold as ticket vouchers generated by the service provider with the corresponding IDs stored in a separate database.

While these supplementary channels can help increase sales, the existence of multiple databases poses an access control problem for validating both tickets and vouchers.

The codeREADr app solves this problem by enabling promoters to combine these databases into a single database hosted in the cloud. Validation can be done online where the ticket is validated in real-time. Alternatively, validation can be done offline with the database downloaded to the iOS or Android devices and later synced to the cloud.

With this merged database, promoters and their venues can catch attendees using duplicate or fake tickets, even if Internet connectivity is slow or unstable.

With print-at-home and mobile tickets becoming increasingly popular, it’s more important than ever for promoters to have good access control systems in place. Why? Because they are easier to copy & fake than traditional printed tickets.

For more information about using codeREADr for event access control, please look here.

Plastic Printers - parking gift card

Printing QR Codes on ID Badges and VIP, gift, loyalty and discount cards is gaining popularity.

To use printed cards for tracking or validation purposes in attendance, access control, transportation and similar applications, each card needs to have a unique ID number associated to it. Typically that ID needs to be read by an electronic device for recording it or validating it against a database.

Typical readers for these applications include barcode, magstripe and RFID/NFC readers. Although the use of magstripes and 1D barcodes are most common, RFID/NFC and QR codes are increasing in popularity.

RFID/NFC technology is often use when security is a high priority because the embedded RFID/NFC chip is difficult to fake if properly implemented. The tradeoff is cost: cards with these chips are significantly more expensive.

QR codes have been gaining popularity because apps can scan them far easier than 1D barcodes using the built-in cameras of smartphones and tablets. The fastest scanning in most ambient conditions and even off-axis is done using the device’s rear-facing camera.  They can also be scanned with front-facing cameras, ideal for unattended scanning (‘kiosk mode’).

While many printers can print QR codes, you need to specify ‘variable’ QR codes where each card has its own unique ID embedded in the QR code. That ID is associated to the card-holder in a database for tracing and validation purposes.

We recently received samples of cards from PlasticPrinters.com (see contact info below). We found their cards to scan quite well, especially their matte finish sample.  A matte finish helps when reading QR codes in high ambient lighting conditions because it minimizes glare.  We recommend your QR codes be roughly 0.7” to 0.8″ square with a 0.1″ border.

According to Cole Goebel from PlasticPrinters.com, “Here’s representative pricing for 4/4 plastic cards, opaque solid color cards, with variable data (QR) included:

100 cards: $250
250 cards: $330
500 cards: $440
1000 cards: $555

Prices include shipping in the domestic US, and graphic design.  So basically for the price listed, we’ll design, print, and ship the cards to your door.  Usual turnaround time is 5 days, plus shipping time from approval of the artwork.”

[Note: The codeREADr platform is not affiliated with PlasticPrinters.com. We simply offer this information for informative purposes.]

If you are interested, here’s their contact information:
Cole Goebel | Channel Sales | PlasticPrinters.com
741 Spiral Blvd. • Hastings, MN 55033
E: cole.goebel@plasticprinters.com
P: 651-319-4762 (Office)
W: http://www.plasticprinters.com

Remote Inventory Auditing

ita logo

Innovative use of smartphones for tracking equipment and inventory.

We like to share success stories about companies and their employees who think outside the box to save money and be more efficient. This profile is about ITA Audio Visual Solutions, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Alex Greene, the ITA Project Manager.

ITA provides best-in-class AV services and integrated technology to Fortune 1000 companies, universities, healthcare institutions, small businesses, hotels and meeting facilities.

The dilemma: Auditing the location and condition of equipment stored in many remote locations.

In addition to their Cincinnati headquarters, ITA has over 30 other locations for rental, installation and support of high-end AV equipment. Surely they could manage 30+ audits using pencils, paper and pictures.

But how accurate is the data? And how do you generate electronic records? 

ITA decided to scrap their old methods and use technology already in the hands of staff members at each location. Using the codeREADr app, they use their Android or iOS devices for scanning or manually entering the equipment’s barcode along and take a picture of the equipment.

A formal, verifiable record. 

Each location has their own app credentials. The device’s location is tracked as the data is collected. And a timestamp is recorded for each scan submission.

This creates a formal, verifiable scan record that can be viewed online and stored for future use. And, importantly, it helps insure the ITA clients get the AV equipment exactly when they need it.

Kudos to ITA and Alex!

AutoSync

When we developed the codeREADr platform back in 2008, we assumed that Internet connectivity would soon be ubiquitous. Therefore, we launched the service offering only real-time (online) validation. That was far easier than building native database functionality for multiple operating systems (and their continuous updates) and across literally 100’s of different devices.

Unstable Internet Connectivity

The reaction from the event community was quite clear. They insisted that offline validation was an essential option. While many venues have good Internet access within their facility, stable connectivity doesn’t always extend to some or all entrances. Likewise, when there’s no crowd at the entrance, 3G/4G/LTE connectivity may be excellent. However, with a crowd of smartphone users at the gate, connectivity can quickly become quite slow.

And who want’s to wait in long lines to get their ticket validated? No one!

Offline Ticket Validation

Therefore, in 2009 we updated our apps and web services to enable both online and offline validation, receiving a unanimous thumb’s up from ticketing companies and event organizers globally.

For the past five (5) years our clients have successfully deployed online validation services, with fallback to offline scanning, and offline validation services. For offline scans, we enabled app-users to manually sync scans and databases to the cloud if and when convenient. In many cases, our clients enabled the app-user to choose online or offline validation while on-site, depending on their actual connectivity.

And Now … AutoSync

If Internet connectivity is fast and stable, the ideal method to validate tickets is to host ticket databases on our servers. In that way all scanning devices are connected in real-time to that database and hence all devices are in sync.

However, if Internet connectivity becomes slow or unstable, then the validation process takes longer, lines build quickly and ticket holders get annoyed. In those cases, offline validation is a must.

What’s special about AutoSync is that scans validated offline are automatically uploaded every 2-seconds to a shared online database and the newly synced database is automatically downloaded every 2-minutes to each device.

With auto-sync, scans are instantly validated because there’s no connection latency since the ticket database is downloaded to iOS and Android devices and scans are validated against that local database.

The syncing process is completed totally in the background so the person scanning tickets can keep scanning without interruption. If connectivity is completely lost, then the scans are queued and synced when connectivity is restored.

With the dramatic increase in the use of emailed, mobile and print-at-home tickets, it’s increasingly important for security personnel to verify the authenticity of an attendee’s ticket. While these ticket types are convenient for consumers, they increase the risk of ticket fraud because they are more easily copied and faked than traditional printed tickets.

AutoSync is the ideal solution for fraud prevention when Internet connectivity isn’t assured.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers