Samsung partners with Mobeam to offer scannable bar codes on the Galaxy S 4

Brad Molen
B. Molen|03.14.13

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Brad Molen
March 14th, 2013
Samsung partners with Mobeam to offer scannable bar codes on the Galaxy S 4

For over a year, mobile commerce startup Mobeam has been looking for OEM suitors willing to embed its bar code scanning tech into phones -- and it's found an ideal partner in Samsung. The tech, which Mobeam calls light based communications (LBC), will be embedded in the manufacturer's latest flagship, the Galaxy S 4. LBC makes it possible for point-of-sale scanners to pick up digital 1D bar codes. So how does it work? Mobeam takes advantage of the phone's proximity sensor to beam pulses of light which mimic your standard black-and-white code. The option should be available for any third-party developer that wants to use it, but unfortunately the tech is only launching -- for now, at least -- on the GS 4, though we've been told that it will eventually be ready to go for more devices down the road. Head below to scan through the full press release for yourself.

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Mobeam Makes Samsung Galaxy S4 the World's First Smartphone Able to Transmit Barcodes at Millions of Retail Locations

Embedded mobeam technology makes Samsung's newest smartphone the first to be compatible with over 165M existing point of sale systems at retailers worldwide

SAN FRANCISCO – March 15, 2013 – Highlighted during the Samsung Unpacked event in New York City this evening, mobeam™ proudly announces the new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone will be the world's first mobile device to integrate its light based communications (LBC) technology so it can beam traditional 1D bar codes. With embedded mobeam technology, the Galaxy S4 will be able to engage in mobile commerce at millions of locations without requiring retailers to make changes to their existing point of sale (POS) systems or technologies.

Mobeam's patented technology solves the key problem that has limited the progress of mobile commerce - the vast majority of existing POS systems are unable to communicate with smartphones. Mobeam converts barcodes, coupons, loyalty cards and gift cards into a beam of light that can be read by every one of the estimated 165 million laser scanners in use today by retailers around the world.

With mobeam's technology, the Galaxy S4 can "beam" traditional 1D barcode data to any laser scanner with no new equipment, such as optical scanners or backend systems, required by the retailer. As Samsung highlighted during this year's Mobile World Congress, retailers prefer barcodes because they don't have to install any new infrastructure to support it.

"Mobeam's vision is simple -- to make mobile commerce work with existing point of sale technology," said Chris Sellers, CEO of mobeam. "Making cutting-edge smartphones work with barcodes might not sound sexy, but it means consumers now have the ability to 'beam' items such as coupons, loyalty cards, gift cards and event tickets at millions of locations – something that was previously impossible. Barcodes are universal and won't be replaced anytime soon, meaning retailers don't need to upgrade their POS systems. The mobile industry now has a commerce technology that can work everywhere, and the world will see it first on the Samsung Galaxy S4."

More than 500 million people around the world are expected to receive mobile coupons this year, representing an increase of 30% increase over 2012. While smartphones are simplifying life in a variety of new ways, true mobile couponing has not been an option because the vast majority of in-store laser scanners cannot scan barcodes displayed on mobile phone screens. Mobeam's technology overcomes this technical barrier.

After recently testing mobeam's technology, mobile commerce blogger, Jeb Brilliant said mobeam's technology has the "potential to change the way we shop and pay for items" and that it "will change mobile payments by enabling current POS scanners to scan a phone."

In the past year, Mobeam has also partnered with Procter & Gamble (P&G), the world's largest consumer packaged goods producer and one of the world's leading coupon distributors. The partnership was developed through P&G's open innovation Connect+Develop program, in a joint effort to create a mobile couponing system that could make shopping with coupons simpler and faster for consumers and retailers at the same time.

"We know that our consumers are increasingly on the go and looking for opportunities to simplify their lives. We also know that they see coupons as a great way try new products or save on trusted brands their families have come to love. Delivering both – in other words, couponing on the go – through this new technology creates a double win for the shopper, and with no added cost for the retailer," said Laura Becker, General Manager P&G Global Business Development and Connect+Develop.

This initiative, along with other mobeam programs to develop an innovative and secure process for clearing digital coupons, brings the industry one step closer to phasing out paper coupons entirely.

Mobeam's technology also creates new possibilities for the hundreds of mobile commerce apps that exist and for app developers designing innovative new mobile commerce apps. Mobeam expects the first mobeam-enabled app to be available later this year. "With mobeam-enabled applications, the checkout process becomes much easier for mobile users, and retailers don't incur the expense of overhauling their scanning technology," said Chris Quinlan, founder and CEO of Ohana Companies, a leading provider of promotional marketing services. "Everybody wins."

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