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Surprising Science

Using QR Codes To Find Lost Objects

A FinderCodes kit contains "smart tags" that, when scanned, put the finder in touch with the owner.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

FinderCodes, a company that “wants to reinvent lost and found for the digital age,” sent its first major order of kits to Office Depot last week. A kit consists of 7-10 smart tags of different formats, which a user attaches to valuable items. Setting up an account on the FinderCodes Web site connects the items to the user. If an item is lost, the finder only has to scan the QR code in the smart tag for the system to text and e-mail the owner. It’s then up to the owner and finder to contact each other to make the exchange. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Co-founder John Valiton says that he got the idea when a partner’s dog was lost after they moved to a new neighborhood. He says that much of FinderCodes is simple database management. “[We] thought, there’s gotta be a better way to do this. After you register with us, you can go back at any point in time to change your address, and to increase or lower the reward.” The technology can also be used in other applications; Valiton cites cattle tracking as one: “You’d scan [the cow’s ear tag]…and it takes you into the database management system. It’s sort of like QuickBooks for cows….Even as a consumer you can scan a steak and learn about the cow that [it] came from.”

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