Apple wins NFC-enabled barcode-reading "shopping list" patent

in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple on Tuesday won a patent describing a complex shopping app that could make its way to the iPhone or iPad in the near future as part of PassBook or a similar eWallet solution.

The title of Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,239,276 for an "On-the-go Shopping List" may appear banal, but the property's summary describes technology much more intriguing: an NFC-capable barcode-reading shopping assistant.

While there are existing readers on the iOS App Store that allow users to scan a variety of codes using an iDevice's camera, including UPC and QR codes, none offer the capability of directly linking scans to purchases or stored credit card information. Apple's '276 patent describes such a solution.

Apple's patent describes a comprehensive app that offers lowest price indicators as well as an option to create shopping lists and read or write product reviews when a barcode is scanned. The "Shopping" app can also be integrated with Maps to offer store locations as well as in-store directions.

Scanning is done in one of three ways: object recognition or code recognition through the device's camera, NFC or a dedicated barcode scanner.

The patent's claims point to the basic capabilities seen in current iOS barcode scanner apps, but in one implementation a store-wide network can be leveraged to check-out electronically. Also described is a device complete with a near-field communications (NFC) chip that can be used to both read product data as well as interface with a store's cash register. The patent limits the NFC capabilities to "coupons" redemption, though the structure for direct payments from a stored credit card is in place and can easily be instituted. It should be noted that Apple has yet to release a device with an included NFC chip.

Shopping Patent
Illustration showing the barcode scanner (46) and NFC chip location (50).
Source: USPTO

From the patent summary:
Embodiments of the system allow a consumer to create an electronic shopping list by scanning products. In some embodiments, shopping-related information may be obtained for items in the shopping list, such as pricing information, product quality, consumer ratings, and other information that may help a consumer to make an informed purchasing decision. Other embodiments allow a consumer to obtain and compare retail prices offered by several retailers for products in the shopping list. Still other embodiments provide a store-wide network that allows a shopper to scan items in the store, add the scanned items to a shopping list, and then check-out electronically.
While not a specified as an eWallet solution, the patent could make its way into Apple's PassBook app which will make its debut in iOS 6 later this fall. As of now, PassBook is limited to storing and organizing electronic tickets, store membership cards, and airplane boarding passes, and does not link to a user's credit card information.

Shopping App
Flowchart of proposed in-store shopping screen. | Source: USPTO

Although no specific plans have been announced regarding entry into eWallet market, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that PassBook was a "very key feature" in iOS 6 but declined to comment further.The Cupertino company recently acquired security firm AuthenTec, a leader in fingerprint reading technologies, which prompted analysts to speculate Apple is mulling an eWallet solution.


  • Reply 1 of 16
    gordygordy Posts: 1,004member

    Until the Fall TV season kicks off, this is entertainment!

  • Reply 2 of 16
    sensisensi Posts: 346member
    Another software 'patent' probably invalid for most of the civilized world, outside the US.
  • Reply 3 of 16
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Originally Posted by gordy View Post

    Until the Fall TV season kicks off, this is entertainment!


    And even after, given what's on TV these days.

    Originally Posted by Sensi View Post

    Another software 'patent' probably invalid for most of the civilized world, outside the US.


    Why do you bother?

  • Reply 4 of 16
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member


    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    And even after, given what's on TV these days.



    If only there was one of the best shows ever created that is currently about to run its 5th episode of season 5 next Sunday on AMC.....


    When shows like Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Community are out- I think the last 5 years have been some of the best television ever (The Sopranos and even better- the Wire were all coming to a close around that time too).  This is the golden age (or at least we're on the tail end of it).

  • Reply 5 of 16
    ochymingochyming Posts: 474member


    Originally Posted by gordy View Post

    Until the Fall TV season kicks off, this is entertainment!



    I do not watch TV anymore.


    I search torrent sites ( i am not a criminal! unlike Samsung. ) for old movies,  some rare to find African movies, Japanese dramas, European thrash and dramas and horror, new Asian movie ( from South Korea comes the BEST, wonder WHY Samsung does nopt look around its backyard, so much talent, instead of copying Apple and others ) to watch on weekends on my iMac.

  • Reply 6 of 16
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member

    How's this for a future "shopping" app?


    1. You create a shopping list of items using a Siri interface to the shopping app.

    2. The app tells you at which store(s) those items are cheapest.

    3. The app shows you a route to the store(s) on a map (unless it knows you're a regular customer and you don't need directions.)

    4. In the store(s), the app shows you a map of where the items are, and the shortest route through the store to get them all.

    5. The app then shows you your expected total purchase, including tax.

    6. You wave your iPhone at the point of sale to make the purchase.


    That would leverage Siri, location services, Maps, and whatever NFC-based contactless mobile payment system Apple uses in  the future.


    Possible optimizations:


    2.1 The app recommends online sites that have items at low cost (including shipping and tax.)

    2.2 The app prioritizes the online sites, factoring in total shipped price *and customer satisfaction ratings*.

    2.3 The app recommends online purchasing of items that don't appear to be immediately needed.

    2.4 The app orders the items online if you tell it to (using the Siri interface again.)

  • Reply 7 of 16
    If I could just avoid the line at the supermarket, it would be revolutionary.

    Forget self checkout registers. These do not work.
  • Reply 8 of 16
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Originally Posted by Conwaycf View Post

    Forget self checkout registers. These do not work.


    They work fine. They just have absolutely terrible software and hardware. Self-checkout registers are probably the best solution going forward, because the only other step up is using your smartphone to scan each product directly, but then it not only has to know exactly what store you're in, it has to know the prices that correspond to each barcode in that store, and rinky-dink stores aren't going to keep those numbers updated, so you couldn't just go to the corner grocery or a gas station or even moderately large chains and expect to do that.

  • Reply 9 of 16
    This is a great feature to have. I enjoy using NFC tags, Paypass, S-Beam and rfid replication/reading on my Galaxy S3. You'd be surprised at the number of stores that currently have NFC Paypass systems already installed.
  • Reply 10 of 16
    ufwaufwa Posts: 64member

    I forgot which show it was but its a few years old now. they showed Supermarkets tested something similar. Customers self scan items as they put it in the cart with a barcode scanner/gun. It keeps track of the items they bought. they then place the "gun" in checkout station, confirm items and pay.


    If Apple puts out this app some of these features, I wonder how soon will B&M retailers get pissy with the finding lowest price option. They weren't too happy with amazon's price check app.

  • Reply 11 of 16
    Waitrose, an upscale supermarket in the UK, has been using barcode scanners with onboard memory, scrollable display and nudges to special offers and multibuys all linked to registered Credit Cards for some years now. Works a treat too. Extending it to a NFE enabled device is only a small step on from this really.

    Will be nice to see it in action and I'm sure plenty of law talking guys are salivating at the thought of the new Ferraris and hookers they're gonna be able to buy on the back of the legal fees contesting its validity over the next few years.
  • Reply 12 of 16
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member

    Don't expect this to come out soon outside of Apple's own stores. No major retailer is going to adopt a technology that isn't cross platform and available on Android handsets as well, and Apple isn't exactly known for licensing anything to outsiders, especially those they deem as direct competitors. Sounds like an interesting idea though, even if nothing will ever come of it now.

  • Reply 13 of 16
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

    …Apple isn't exactly known for licensing anything to outsiders, especially those they deem as direct competitors.


    Good thing Google was resourceful enough to make their own browser platform, because Apple would never have let… them… Oh.

  • Reply 14 of 16
    waybacmacwaybacmac Posts: 309member

    I see a pattern…no, a direction…where Apple is going. It's not ads, it's not social, it's not search, it's not enterprise. Apple may do a bit of all of these but I don't think these are what Apple is aiming at. Not really. It's SHOPPING. All in caps. It started with iTunes and music, followed by movies, TV, apps, books, newspapers. Ok, maybe not in that exact order…not important…anything digital. Online store, retail stores…big time retail stores. It's not Apple Computer anymore. Apple isn't building computers. Macs, iPods, iPhones, iPads = iPurchasing devices. I see a potential future where Amazon's online model might become as irrelevant as a Sears & Roebuck's* mail order catalog. From storefront to catalog to online to the device in your hand.


    (* Sears, Roebuck and Co. for the nitpickers)

  • Reply 16 of 16

    hey, i just created qr code on my iphone last two months ago, and then when my friend took her iphone to scan the food using the camera ,i thought i i should also try such a thing , do i searched on google to find the barcode reader app for iphone


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