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Fresh Video Series: A New Generation of Bar Codes

Posted by: Nick Leiber on September 10, 2008

Our ongoing series Fresh profiles standout startups before they
become household names. Now we’re adding videos of some of the
featured entrepreneurs to the mix. Catch the latest in the posts in this new section of our blog. And if you know of a great example in your area, use this form to make a suggestion. We’ll follow up on the best.

Video edited by Damian Joseph

It was a bottle of Hungry Jack that gave Jon Cameron the idea for a new generation of bar codes. The 43-year-old chief executive of Pop! Technology was microwaving the syrup and noticed the label came with temperature-sensitive ink that changed color to tell when the bottle’s contents had warmed enough for use. He thought, why not apply that ink to universal product codes? Pop—the name refers to “point of placement”—prints a temperature-sensitive tag next to the regular UPC. This extra code can be reversible, changing color based on the temperature of the product at the time being, like that Hungry Jack bottle. Or it can be irreversible, changing only once in response to some temperature increase or decrease. With irreversible ink, mishandling of perishable products including chicken and medicines becomes much easier to detect: Once the product has been exposed to unsuitable temperatures, the color acts as an alert.

Though Cameron secured the patent for Pop’s technology in 1999, Pop was only formed in 2004. Now that the company is finishing up beta testing, though, he says clients are a-calling. Cameron has already secured $1 million in funding, with another million on the way. He says Pop will make roughly $1.2 million this year, with projections of $5 million by 2009. With that revenue Cameron plans to expand his operation from three employees (including himself) to four sales teams, turning up the heat—and perhaps changing the color of Pop’s own UPC, too.

—Oriana Schwindt

Reader Comments


July 26, 2009 4:55 AM

If the color change is tripped, and the product is no longer of high quality, who is responsible? Are the truckers, the food brokers, retail store, or insurers on the hook for the spoilage? Will there be some sort of certification sign off on the hand off? Will there be a fee for being certifiable?


August 25, 2009 6:06 AM

And for what exactly would this technology be used? Would it be to ensure that milk stayed cold? Or that chicken had not been left out too long? I never, ever microwave anything in it's container, so I don't really understand the point.

DJ Willard

September 2, 2009 11:48 AM

Predominate applications would be commercial - restaurants, etc

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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