Some Chattanooga residents said they are using mobile barcodes for everything from providing more information to a potential employer to promoting a business, but AT&T officials said some customers are just discovering the technology.

“Consumer education is definitely one of the hurdlers to widespread adoption,” Robert Russell, AT&T Director of Product Marketing Management, said in a prepared statement. “While the tipping point for mobile barcodes has yet to be realized, we view the technology as being similar to the evolution of text messaging. If you take a close look around, you may be surprised at how many mobile barcodes are currently being used.”

Barcodes are 2D-style images that people can scan using the camera of a smartphone to unlock interactive content, such as a mobile website, coupons, songs and applications, Senior Public Relations Manager Cathy Lewandowski said.

Customers scan the 2D barcodes with a mobile barcode reader application on a smartphone.


How to download AT&T Code Scanner

App Store
Search for AT&T Code Scanner in your device app store. You can find it on BlackBerry App World, Android Market, and AT&T MediaNet.

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Go to on your mobile device.

Source: AT&T website

The AT&T Code Scanner is available as a free download on Android, iPhone and Blackberry phones and the scanner is compatible across carriers.

Customers can also create his or her own codes, officials said.

Local resident Chanté D. Newcomb said she embedded a barcode into her website. The barcode takes viewers to her resume.

Chattanooga resident Dwight Hunter, who is also chairman of the Tennessee Parent Teacher Association, said he has been working to learn how to use the barcodes to promote his organization.

“(The) codes can connect the on-the-go smart phone user to specific online content,” he said. “Businesses can promote a web page or a Facebook page to build their customer base.”

Types of codes

Lewandowski said that, according to an ABI Research study, 80 percent of consumers expressed interest in scanning mobile barcodes.

But Russell said many people, even those who have used the codes, still don’t know exactly how the technology works.

“Many refer to all mobile barcodes as  ‘QR codes,’ but that is actually a misnomer,” he said. “QR codes are only one type of 2D mobile barcode, along with datamatrix.”

AT&T officials said that QR –  which stands for ‘quick response’ – codes have become more of a “household name” after gaining popularity in Japan.

Russell said that QR codes are generally less secure and allow more opportunity for hackers to divert the user scan away from the interactive content intended by the creator.

Datamatrix is commonly used in supply chain operations but are also becoming more popular in marketing campaigns because of additional security features.

With datamatrix, the instruction for the code is housed at a server to protect the security of code contents and allow the creator management and tracking through computer software, Russell said.

Locally, many Twitter users said they are familiar with barcodes and use them for a variety of reasons.

According to MediaPost, 57 percent of Facebook and Twitter users said they have scanned a mobile bar code at least once in the past year.

As many as 40 percent said they have scanned a barcode five or more times.

A survey conducted by Scanbuy found that mobile barcode usage increased 700 percent in 2010 when compared with 2009, with a major jump during the holiday shopping season when stores such as Best Buy added codes to product packaging, the Tennesseean reported recently.


Companies such as Microsoft and AT&T have code readers and create-a-code platforms.
AT&T launched its barcode service last August, Russell said.

“We have also been working with more than 20 enterprise customers across key sectors to develop and execute marketing programs that utilize 2D barcode technology,” he said.

AT&T officials said they expect popularity to continue to increase.

He also said that AT&T is now pre-loading the AT&T code scanner on new devices such as the Motorola ATRIX.

“Mobile barcodes bridge the physical and digital world and code scanner applications are the key to unlock exciting digital content,” Russell said. “It’s up to companies like AT&T to forge the way and show consumers the true value.”