Toshiba has developed software that allows users to easily check online reviews of a product by reading its barcode with a camera-equipped cellphone. The software will be put to trial use in February at locations such as electronics stores and bookstores, and will become commercially available sometime in 2006.

The software is designed for products that purchasers tend to read reviews for, such as electronic goods, food, books, CDs, DVDs, makeup, etc. Users will be able to access information for approximately 400,000 products.

When a barcode is read using a cellphone camera, the data is automatically sent to a dedicated server, where data from blogs that refer to that product is searched. After about 10 seconds, the number of "positive" and "negative" blog hits is displayed on the cellphone screen. In addition, blog text related to the product is displayed, as well as information about related products.

Toshiba developed an original database that arranges approximately 500,000 Japanese keywords into categories such as "travel" or "culture," and groups them according to the review ratings. The company claims this technique enables quick analysis of blog content.

[Source: Asahi Shimbun]