How can you shop at a mall without going into a store? The answer: with your cell phone camera.
You point your phone at a display billboard and it will scan a bar code that's on the ad. Then it connects you to a Web site where you can place an order for the product on the billboard and pay with your credit card number. You don't get to carry the stuff back to your car, though; it's delivered by post to your home.
L.A.-based UpCode USA has launched this technology in conjunction with CBS Outdoor. The partnership's first ad campaign is for the DVD movie "All In." CBS has put ads for the movie on mall signs where consumers can scan the bar code and instantly view the film's trailer on their phone, or enter a contest to win a DVD of the movie. There are signs up now in the Los Angeles area, including at the Hollywood & Highland Center, South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach and Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
"This program will show advertisers and media companies a new way of communicating with prospects and how to add value to their existing marketing," said Jerald Cavitt, chief executive of UpCode USA, the stateside subsidiary of Finland-based UpCode.
The company uses the technology more widely in Europe, where consumers can pay some bills and even add credit to their parking meters with their UpCode cell phone programs. The film promotion is the company's nationwide "beta" test for the technology in the United States.
The UpCode system also gives advertisers information about who responds to their ads, because telecom companies have databases on cell phone numbers and registered device owners.
"It turns a poster into a marketing survey," said Brandi Milloy, vice president of business development at UpCode USA.
For consumers, security looms as an issue for mobile e-commerce.
"There really should be grave concerns about making purchases without security," said Dan Hoffman, chief technology officer at SMobile Systems in Chicago and author of the book "Blackjacking: Security Threats to BlackBerry Devices, PDAs and Cell Phones in the Enterprise."
Hoffman said that while security software is common on PCs, it's still uncommon on mobile devices.
Because phones vary so widely in their security, UpCode has its own protections. Milloy said the system has five forms of user authentication, including voice recognition, encryption and cell phone chip security.
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