Friday, June 20, 2008

Ikan High-priced kitchen scanner not quite the needed solution

When I read the review of the Ikan by David Pogue, it made me wonder why such a large, expensive kind of aesthetically clunky device was needed to address a relatively simple problem of automating the development of the weekly shopping list. USB hand-held barcode scanners (even wireless ones!) have been around for a number of years. It looks to me like it should be just a matter of developing the software for a hand-held (and small by comparison) scanner to lookup an item's scanned UPC code in an online database then add the item to a temporary grocery shopping list file. The file could then be sent to a selected online grocery supplier with billing accomplished by a homeowner's user profile. In fact, I would be surprised if such a device didn't already exist and as it turns out it already does and has since 2005 - the Intelliscanner Kitchen companion:

"Introducing the ultra-portable scanner that keeps track of everything in your home with barcode technology.
IntelliScanner mini is everything you need to organize, track, and share your collections. IntelliScanner mini automatically keeps track of books, wine, groceries, comics, DVDs, CDs, games, and other home assets. Just scan the barcodes, plug it in to download, and start getting organized. It's a whole home organization package in one box, for your PC or Mac.

Scan items in your home or around town, then plug it in to organize:

MEDIA (books, DVDs, CDs, and games – just scan for details and cover art)
ASSETS (keep track of important assets, build detailed insurance reports)
WINE (know the details, automatically; track locations, tasting notes, and maturity)
GROCERIES (create shopping lists, track nutrition and what’s in your pantry)
MICS (intuitive comic book collection management, enhanced with barcodes)
SHARE ONLINE (Web 2.0 Publishing and iPhone Sharing lets you browse anywhere)

Smart scanner, smart software, smart organization.
IntelliScanner mini is tiny, portable, and built to travel. With an
included neck lanyard and keychain clip, you can put it on and scan items anywhere -- in your home or around town -- then just plug it in to download.

IntelliScanner mini includes everything you need to scan, organize, and share, now available worldwide at a breakthrough price of just $299.00. [tell me more]"

As you can see, it can also be used to organize a number of other household collections as well. I think this is a far better solution (and much more portable, compact, and affordable) than the solution David reviewed below:

"The mission of this $400 device is to eliminate trips to the grocery store. The hardware component is a bulbous bar code scanner, dressed up in Any-D├ęcor White and mounted on a countertop stand, an undercabinet bracket or a wall mount. It offers a color screen on the front, a laser scanner underneath and a Wi-Fi antenna inside that connects to your home wireless network.

Each time you’re about to throw away an empty container — for ketchup, cereal, pickles, milk, macaroni, paper towels, dog food or whatever — you just pass its bar code under the scanner. With amazing speed and accuracy, the Ikan beeps, consults its online database of one million products, and displays the full name and description.

In a clear, friendly font, the screen might say: “Nabisco Reduced Fat Ritz Crackers 14.5 Oz.,” for example. Now you can toss the box, content that its replacement has been added to your shopping list.

After a few days of this, you can review the list online at — and if everything looks good, click once to have everything delivered to your house at a time you specify.

Maybe it’s not exactly a Food-a-Rac-a-Cycle. But at least it’s the Netflix of groceries."

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