Custom Barcode Scanning from your iPhone

We have a lot of items on our shelves, and each one of them contains a wealth of related information within our catalog system. But it's a pain to have to physically carry a item from the shelf to a computer to look up that data, which pales in comparison to hundreds of items on a cart or shelf. It'd be great to have a way to look up that information on a mobile device, ideally by entering the item's unique barcode number with a scanner.

First I built a drupal module that displayed the basic information we wanted for each item, and I added the barcode as an argument at the end of the page's URL. As a result, if you knew the item's barcode, you could open a web browser and type in the address + the barcode to automatically go to a page with the information you wanted.

Secondly, I looked for an App in the iTunes App Store which could do actual scanning of the barcode using the iPhone's camera. There are a TON of barcode scanners in the App Store, but the vast majority of them are tailored to scanning UPC codes and redirecting you to online retailers for the corresponding product, or to decode custom QR codes.

After checking about a dozen free Apps with no luck, the App I finally settled on was mobiscan, which cost $3. But it fulfilled the two requirements for this simple project:

  1. Scan a barcode in the codabar format
  2. Redirect to a custom URL with that barcode's value

There are other, similar apps that offer even more custom functionality, or even integration with your own iOS app. But for the quick and simple scan and go functionality, mobiscan worked the best.

mobiscan App:


Nice! What is the custom URL for the UPC code, if you don't mind me asking? I'd be happy to make a quick proof of concept app that you could use to scan a barcode and load up the url.

Great idea. It reminds me of another library-related barcode idea I've had in mind for a couple years: let me carry a digital version of my library card in my phone so I can just open my phone when I need to scan my "card" to checkout books.
Do you see that functionality coming anytime soon?
Natalie Svaan