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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Your cell phone could soon become a useful tool for shopping. Mobile phone companies are meeting in London today to talk about turning the handset in to a bar code reader. From London, Stephen Beard reports.
STEPHEN BEARD: The evolution of the cell phone is gathering pace.
The latest idea will turn it into a kind of electronic sales assistant. Point your camera phone at a special barcode printed on an ad or on packaging, press a button and instantly download more information about the product. Or the phone will deliver coupons or other marketing offers.
The idea is not new. In fact barcode reading phones are common in Japan and South Korea. But they’re virtually unheard of in the West, largely because of the lack of a common technology.
Today’s meeting will attempt to deal with that problem .The leading cell phone companies along with Hewlett Packard and the marketing giant Publicis will try to forge a common standard so any phone will read any barcode.
They expect to reach agreement and to have the system up and running in the U.S. and Europe within a year.
In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
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