UBM Tech
UBM Tech

Smartphone barcodes now readable by all POS laser scanners

-February 25, 2013

ams and Mobeam partnership brings integrated 1D barcode transmit solution to smartphone makers, ends paper-coupon processing nightmare for retailers

ams AG and Mobeam announced that they have formed a strategic partnership that will accelerate the ability of smartphones to transmit barcoded content that can be read by all point-of-sale (POS) laser scanners. The partnership will provide an integrated solution consisting of ams’ industry-leading light sensors and Mobeam’s light-based beaming technology.

With this partnership, handset makers will be able to fully support mobile commerce applications that use barcodes such as: coupon redemption, loyalty cards, gift cards and tickets. For retailers, this will mean the end of manually sorting printed coupons, and waiting months for reimbursement.

Roughly 350 billion paper coupons are issued each year in the U.S., with a value of over $470 billion. Paper coupons consume 13 million trees every year, and 99% are actually never even used. The dream of paperless “mobile couponing” has remained elusive because the vast majority of in-store laser scanners cannot scan 1D barcodes displayed on mobile phones.

Standard user consumer model as it exists today



The technology partnership gives handset makers the ability to finally overcome mobile couponing’s last technical barrier.

The partnership integrates Mobeam’s technology with ams’ digital light sensor optical module to provide smartphone vendors with a turn-key solution and differentiation without the need for additional components.

The ams TMD3990 module utilizes the same type of proximity IR LED that is already used in smartphones today to disable the touch-screen display. This simplified approach will give handset makers the ability to capture all of the new opportunities taking root in mobile coupons and mobile commerce.

How the new technology works

Mobeam® solves current high failure readings of barcode scanning from a TFT display. Existing red-laser scanners cannot “see” barcodes displayed on a phone screen due to random polarization of the laser beam and the screen. The technology solves the problem that has limited the advancement of mobile couponing, namely that smartphones utilize emissive displays from which a common POS barcode reader cannot capture barcode data.

Mobeam® provides a patented light based communications (LBC) technology and software that enables mobile phones to interact with existing POS retail technology. This is realized by transforming a barcode into a beam of light that is readable by the laser scanner.

The ams TMD3990 module combines color light sensing; proximity detection and integrated IR LED to enable barcode transmission technology. This solution utilizes the same Proximity IR LED used in smartphones today for disabling touchscreen/backlight displays.  Handset manufacturers will be able to integrate the technology easily and without the need to add additional components.    

More than 500 million people around the world are expected to receive mobile coupons this year, a 30% increase from 2012. Efficient transfer of barcode data is essential to expand the mobile couponing market. Enabling consumers to use their smartphones to redeem digitized coupons will provide an eco-friendly solution, added convenience, and help to accelerate mobile commerce.

Full production of the TMD3990, which combines Color Light Sensing, proximity detection and IR LED barcode transmit function, is scheduled for 3Q2013.

For more information go to ams website and Mobeam website

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