Scanning Matters

Smith, J. Walker
January 2004
Marketing Management;Jan/Feb2004, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p60
This article talks about the use of handheld scanners and its impact on shopping. The MIT Media Lab has invented a handheld device with a scanner and a memory chip called the Corporate Fallout Detector. A research sociologist at Microsoft Corp. has invented something similar. This device uses a scanner, a handheld computer, and a wireless Internet connection. A barcode is scanned on a product and the device searches the Internet for information about any dangers or hazards. It will not be too long before such devices are commercialized. Consumers concerned about the environment could set up their devices to scan environmental databases for an on-the-spot rating of how a company stacks up. This could be done for any issue--third world labor practices, trade with certain nations, product safety, workplace safety, labor relations, contributions to political parties, support to charitable organizations, presence of women or people of color in top management, truth in advertising, and more. The only requirement would be an accessible database of pertinent information. Thousands of databases will be put together for consumers to use or link to when setting up their devices. With these devices in hand, consumers will have the ability to provide instantaneous referendum on what they think of the ways companies operate within their communities.


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