App Review: Stickybits – letting you stick digital stuff to real objects

Stickybits lets you tag digital content to the real world – an idea that immediately got me excited. Using product barcodes and the iPhone’s ability to “scan” them using the camera it lets you leave photos, video, audio or just a text comment attached to anything with a barcode. It’s like augmented reality but not so visual.

So it lets you add photos to packets of breakfast cereals, reviews to cardigans in TopShop or comments on soup tins.

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If you want to leave a message attached to something that doesn’t have a barcode, your favourite mug say, stickybits sell barcode labels, (attractively designed and 20 for $10 on Amazon) simply stick the sticker on, scan it and you can virtually tag it as you would with any other barcoded product.

Phew complex eh? But fun. Our review below:

The Concept:
Letting you attach digital content to real world items, it is a service that lets you leave product or location-specific information stuck around the place, like graffiti in a way.
It’s very social as well – see who else has scanned the same product as you and what they said about it. See what people are scanning near you, see what your friends have scanned and what they said about it.

The User Experience:
It’s a nice design and actually quite stylish, but the app is hard to get your head around, just because it does so many things. You can scan, you can see an archive of things you’ve scanned and what you’ve attached to them, you can see other people’s scans and attachments displayed chronologically or on a map. You can also share with Twitter or Facebook.

Potential uses:
Stickybits have drawn up a list of potential uses which include:
1) Assembling things – stick how-to videos onto parts to show users how to assemble them correctly.
2) Augmented reality business cards: having a barcode on your card could call up things other people have said about you. Recommendations ideally.
3) Inventories of things like wine cellars: Scan the bottles when you drink them to add tasting notes. Then check your notes easily in store.

Drawbacks:
1)The complexity of this means it might not catch on for a while – though it is a great idea.
2) I’d like to be able to attach urls: links to blog posts or articles say..
3) Probably working in online media has made my hands a little shakier than the average person, but though some codes scan very easily, other don’t and I couldn’t hold the damn phone steady enough to scan one in particular.

Wow-factor:
It’s quite addictive way of logging what’s around you and makes the world a bit more fun, social and interactive. People who like Twitter will probably be pretty keen on this. I love the way barcodes have been hacked for this kind of social commentary.

Conclusion:
Easy enough to use, Stickybits has a cute friendly brand and a brilliant idea. I think the idea has lots of potential, it’s going to take a while for people to start using this in a useful way and for enough information to be uploaded. Still I’ve just gone around my room scanning stuff and I can’t wait to comment on Marks & Spencer’s baguette options tomorrow so I think this might catch on.

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Anna Leach

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