'Scan All Your Veggies, Young Lady': Produce Gets Mobilized

Apple-StickerYeah -- even your fruit may be scannable now. A new data bar technology from Greenscans uses the little annoying stickers on all of those fruit and vegetables in the produce aisle to deliver to consumers a range of information about the fruit or veggie.

In a deal with Chelan Fresh of Washington state, Greenscans activations will appear on sixteen different apples from the company. When a user downloads the iPhone app and scans the produce they get videos of the Chelan Fresh farms. It is a pleasant enough experience. The code on a Gala apple gave me about a minute of video of one of the workers on the farm talking about Galas without offering much in the way of useful info. It is another code for code’s sake exercise.

But generally Greenscans is promising in that it uses the standardized GS1 information attached to these pre-existing databars to give the consumer some baseline information about everything with a tag. Partners can opt in to layering new custom information for customers.



The idea of activating produce is not a bad one. My wife buys offbeat fruits and vegetables on odd looks alone just as an adventure and a challenge. It would be good to know that the thing she thinks looks cool really take five days to cook or has a shell the thickness of a NORAD bunker.

Greenscans says that the idea here is for produce harvesters and distributors to use the tiny real estate they have on the side of a piece of fruit to good advantage. The codes can link the user to recipes and information about a product, of course. Well, you need to get these companies to build the back-end data and find clever ways to lure people in to download. Retailers can download collateral from Greenscans to use for in-store promotions.

Greenscans says that eventually the app and its location awareness can be used for data mining and pools of data about the produce supply chain and usage.

The goal with all scanning, of course, is to deliver to consumers relatively consistent experiences from scanning any 2D code on a product. While users of some third-party barcode scanners may understand that any UPC should render something, few people would think yet to scan a banana. And yet, why not? In a world made truly clickable by mobile technology, the phone is a mouse and all physical objects can and should render data or opportunities for interaction and sharing.    

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