Barcode Thing


My things + your things + the Internet knows about all things = Barcode Thing

The problem

Large collections of books, records, CDs, DVDs, retrogames, etc. can be difficult to manage, especially when you want to expand your collection on the move. When shopping you may want to know if you have an item, how much the item sells for, even look up reviews or previews. Maybe you even want to find out if a friend has a copy, check what they think, or even ask if they can borrow it!

The Solution

A tablet and mobile application to get info out and about, even a catalogue of your collection, searchable on the move. Our app decodes the barcode on the device and passes the search to the server.

The Server

Using the barcode data we lookup the product's name and category. From here we then pass the product's information to a variety of flexible search plugins, returning results back to the client. For demonstration purposes we implemented eBay, Youtube and Guardian news, though we could potentially support any product information service that provides an open API.

The Client

We initially implemented a generic jQuery Mobile service, using an HTML5 canvas and JavaScript to decode the barcode image directly in the browser, knowing that the HP Touchpad could perform well in this environment. After getting the generic interface prototyped we moved on to building a WebOS Enyo app for searching, with the knowledge that the barcode library would work on the tablet.

Technologies Used

We used Node.js with Express and jqltpl templates server side to produce the web service + API, with a modular plugin structure. Client side we drew barcode images onto an HTML5 canvas and processed the image using JavaScript.

Long Term Ideas

  • Statistical analysis of ownership and need for products.
  • Advertising based on the above.


Ideas for taking this project forward

We are looking to finish up some code on both the client and server side with a view to release both open source.

Estimated costs for taking this project forward

About the data used for this project


We use the API for barcode lookup, though this is integrated as a plugin, so any barcode-to-product database could be used.

Search Results

Currently using Youtube, The Guardian and eBay APIs to return results, though any product search API could easily be integrated into the service.


  • Greg Miell (
  • Greg Mackelden (
  • Allan Callaghan (

Project URL:

Created at

HP webOS Developer Event

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