ShopSavvy, formerly known as GoKart, is a comparison-shopping application that runs on Google Android. It is one of the winners in the Google Android Developer Challenge. A press release can only explain so much. Big In Japan, makers of ShopSavvy, gave me a personal demonstration of this new app. I then got a chance to speak to Rylan Barnes, “Tech Shogun,” who gave Gadgetell a behind the scenes look at how the software works and where they want to take the app in the future.
ShopSavvy: The App
The application is incredibly simple. The main event is the price comparison stuff; so let’s hit that first. This is unlike other applications that read barcodes. Other applications take a photo then compare the photo to a library of codes.
ShopSavvy uses the G1’s camera and it reads the barcode. There is no photo being taken and then being uploaded. The code is either read or it’s not. If ShopSavvy can read the code, expect nearly 100% accurate results.
Find the right price
ShopSavvy will search for the price of the product online and show you a rundown of prices so you can comparison shop. You also get access to product reviews to help you out.
Wish lists and price alerts
You can create wish lists by scanning barcodes or just typing in a title or keyword in the app. See an item you like but think it costs too much? Name your price and have ShopSavvy tell you when that product hits your price.
Autofocus to the rescue
Scanning the barcode is easy. The Big in Japan guys used the open source ZXing (pronounced “Zebra Crossing”) barcode reader in their application. Rylan Barnes told me that he used ZXing to allow the fixed camera lens to change focal length in software since the G1 does not have a focus control.
What does that mean? Simply put, you don’t have to bring the camera near then far from you until you get the lens to focus. Just get the barcode in the camera’s sights and ShopSavvy will get the camera to autofocus. Have you ever tried to focus up close with an iPhone? If you have, you get why this is so cool.
The Big in Japan guys want to build partnerships with retailers. Here is the scenario they imagine. You go into a brick and mortar store and see an item. You use ShopSavvy and find out you could get a better price elsewhere.
The retailer/partner who works with Big in Japan would offer a price match or lower price and send that info to your Android phone. When you go up to the register, just swipe the barcode from your phone.
I’ve got to say, that is a very cool scenario. I’m sure I am not the only one who would love to dispense with delayed gratification and be able to pick up an item in a store at a competitive price.
In case the price-matching plan does not pan out, Big in Japan is also looking to bring one-click shopping to your pocket. These sound like great ideas and I am excited to see what they do next.
Check out [Big in Japan]