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The RedLaser Product Catalog

Published on | By Miles Skorpen

RedLaser Results

One of our biggest jobs at RedLaser is maintaining and growing our product database. The shoppers who use our app every day depend on us to have the freshest, most accurate, and broadest product information out there. We know it is a bit of a mystery how we get our product data, though.

We start with data from eBay and other eBay-owned companies, like the eBay Commerce Network (just renamed, from Shopping.Com). Not every product on eBay has the UPC information we need to uniquely link it to a product in the RedLaser database, but we work closely with the eBay catalog team to figure out how to push the API to its limits and pull out every match we can. Our biggest risk with eBay data is that we get too many low prices! We run algorithms which identify the eBay results which are most relevant to our users, focusing on showing a range of products — used and new, from top-rated sellers and the occasional hobbyist.

Next, we’ve partnered directly with many of the world’s top retailers. These stores provide us data feeds of all their products. With a select number of merchants, we’ve partnered to make a much easier way to buy, just by putting in your PayPal ID and PIN (these merchants are indicated with green-highlighted prices).

We aggregate all our information, and put it through a rigorous cleaning process (we’ll cover this next week). The best information is added to our catalog, which has grown well over 4,000% since RedLaser was acquired 2.5 years ago, and now covers hundreds of thousands of merchants in nearly any country you can think of.

Fortunately, deciding what prices to show is the easiest part: We sort all online prices from lowest to highest (while local prices are sorted by distance, nearest to farthest), and don’t bias our results in any way, for any partner.

If you’re a retailer or manufacturer, adding your data to RedLaser is easy. Find out more here

 


iOS SDK 3.3.0 release: Codabar support, new scanning engine, improved sample application

Published on | By Miles Skorpen

The RedLaser team is proud to announce the release of our iOS SDK version 3.3.0. This release is now available to all production accounts, and for evaluation.

This new update contains a number of new features and bug fixes. Of particular note for our users: this update removes the unique device identifier [UDID] call from the SDK.

Use of these identifiers was deprecated in iOS 5.0, and recently, accessing UDIDs in an application may result in rejection in app review.  Due to this change, developers should use RedLaser iOS SDK version 3.3.0 or later in all future applications. This change will not impact existing applications. Historically, we’ve used UDIDs in our licensing system, particularly for developer accounts–they are never used outside of RedLaser. We’re changing our licensing system to use an alternative device identification system.

Two other changes are highlighted in our updated sample application.

First, the RedLaser iOS SDK now supports scanning Codabar barcodes. The most prominent user of Codabar is FedEx, which uses the symbology for its airbills. It is also commonly used by libraries, photo labs, and American blood banks. Codabar can be enabled in a similar fashion as other code symbologies in the SDK. You can also see the other code types RedLaser can scan in our documentation.

Second, we have added a debugging line to our sample application which provides information about the installed license file. You can read more about the testing process here.

Generally, the sample application has also been further updated to highlight some of the more advanced functionality available with the RedLaser SDK. This includes:

  • Built-in multi-scan mode
  • Multiple scan screen overlay options
  • Screen overlay rotation (particularly useful for large code types, like Code 39, which are used for VINs)
  • Utilizes both the front and rear facing cameras

Please utilize code from our sample application as a starting point for integrating the RedLaser SDK into your application, and push our software to its limits!

There have also been a number of behind-the-scenes changes. In particular, we have developed a new scanning algorithm which significantly improves performance on older devices.

Older devices have lower resolution cameras (frequently without auto-focus), and this translates into blurry barcodes. The RedLaser SDK now intelligently adjusts its gamma expectations based on ambient light, which lets it quickly pick out the details of blurry codes even in dark conditions.
Finally, we have introduced support for a capture-preview call. Under any circumstances you specify, the scanning SDK will capture a screen-shot of the preview screen right as it successfully completes a scan. You can send these previews back to your servers — functionality which may help coupon applications make sure real coupons (not just print-outs or photocopies) are being scanned.

 

In summary, our new iOS SDK introduces:

  • Changes to our licensing system to remove the need for UDID calls
  • Improved scanning in low-light conditions
  • Improved EAN scanning on iPad 2 and iPod Touch devices
  • BarcodeResult now conforms to NSCoding.
  • A new sample application, which includes license testing
  • Support for Codabar
  • Capture of barcode-scanning preview images

If you have a production account, you may download our new SDK immediately from our developer portal.