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IntelAIC2013 : Windows 8 Comparison Shopper

, 26 Jul 2013 CPOL
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A windows 8 app that compares prices as you shop

Please note

This article is an entry in our AppInnovation Contest. Articles in this sub-section are not required to be full articles so care should be taken when voting.

Introduction

When shopping in retail stores, you often get the feeling that you are paying a premium in order to touch and feel the products you wish to buy. Wouldn't you like to be able to scan a product barcode, and instantly get competing prices from online retailers, and online product reviews, so that you can tell whether you would save money by purchasing the product on-line rather than in-store.  

This proposed Windows 8 app offers functionality to scan and read product barcodes, translate these into EAN/UPC codes, and compared against the same item for sale in on-line retailers, such as Amazon. The app would also have details of your home address, and therefore should be able to calculate shipping costs and delivery times, so that the user can choose whether any cost saving is worth the waiting for the courier to deliver the product, rather than buying the product there and then in the shop.  

Background

UPC barcodes are used throughout the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand, and are reasonably well standardised, meaning that regardless of the retail outlet visited by the user, the lookup should be accurate and trustworthy. 

 Many UPC barcode lookup services do exist, one of the more popular services is that offered by Amazon,  as documented in their API: (http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSECommerceService/2011-08-01/DG/ItemLookup.html).  This can be tied into their product feed API, providing prices, product data, and customer reviews. Of course, being a comparison shopper app, it is envisaged that multiple online marketplaces will be queried for the same product, to give a comprehensive list of available purchasing options.

Most Windows 8 Tablet PCs come equipped with a webcam or camera, allowing the capture of  images, which can then be processed using OCR to convert this into a string of digits, which can then be fed into online barcode databases.  

 

Using the code 

As per Amazon's API documentation, a UPC barcode can be decoded using a call in the following format.

http://webservices.amazon.com/onca/xml?
Service=AWSECommerceService&
AWSAccessKeyId=[AWS Access Key ID]&
Operation=ItemLookup&
ItemId=[UPC]&
SearchIndex=Books&
&IdType=UPC
&Timestamp=[YYYY-MM-DDThh:mm:ssZ]
&Signature=[Request Signature]

Which returns the response in an XML format.   The Windows 8 App would be written using WinJS (HTML5 + Javascript), with some C# code providing the Image capture / barcode OCR system, all of the rest of the app would be written in HTML5 / Javascript   

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

fiach2
CEO Open Merchant Account Ltd
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Author of the book "Network Programming in .NET", as published by Elsevier Digital Press
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