But these days are over ! Thanks to a very very wide dance around a concept lifted from Cory Doctorow’s novel Makers (free as in beer as per usual with this fine man), I decided to try and come up with a convenient way to know where stuff is in our appartment : a QR code augmented storage system. The concept : you catalog all you store in a box or boxes into spreadsheets, either on your computer or « in the cloud » as they say, and access it through your computer or one of these newfangled "smartphones" : QR codes printed to point your smartphone or computer to the URL of the relevant spreadsheet allows you to quickly browse through your boxes to either look up what's in them or update them.
Interested ? Then let's move straight on to the requirements page !
[05/04/10] Thanks to Mr.Incredible for his comments - they made me realize I should have added a picture of my own setup and more explanations regarding the "multiple sheets in one spreadsheet" option !
Step 1: Requirements
- A free Touchatag account ;
- Boxes (cardboard is what I’m using these days, but I'll soon switch to plastic for durability and visibility’s sake) ;
- A computer, printer, paper, scissors, scotch tape ;
- A smartphone with WiFi connectivity.
Are we good ? Then let's get started !
Step 2: Create Your Spreadsheet, Add Stuff, and Extract Link
Once you're done, copy and paste the URL to it - again, whether it designates an online or local location depending on your earlier choice (for this Instructable, we'll stick to online spreadsheets through Google Docs) and save it for later.
Are you all done ? Then let's move on to the next step !
Step 3: Generate QR Code
Move over to your dashboard, and create an application there based on the « Web Link » model. You’ll then give your application a name (« Box storage » will do for now), and then paste in the URL for the spreadsheet before clicking Next. In the next step, Touchatag will generate the QR code which you can print or save for later – in our case, we’re going to print it right away and move on to the next step.
Step 4: Stick It to the Box !
Step 5: Looking for Something (from Your Computer) ?
Step 6: Looking for Something (from Your Terminal) ?
Step 7: (Optional : Repeat Steps 2 to 5 !)
Note that you can choose to either add sheets to the current spreadsheet, or keep creating a new file for each box - see Step 8 - Other options and improvements for more details on that and other things !
Step 8: Other Options and Improvements
Depending on how you want to set things up, you can either create one separate file per box, or one file with several sheets for several boxes : having just one big spreadsheet is very convenient when you need to look up for the location of an item in your storage, and once you've found it in your spreadsheet, you can just go to your storage and check the number of the box to retrieve what you were looking for.
I was unable to have the semacode point to a specific sheet in a spreadsheet - anyone have any ideas about how to do something like that ?
The whole system relies heavily on how serious at keeping the boxes updated the user is. Ideally, the system could use RFID chips and RFID readers embedded in the boxes (as originally described in the novel) to work pretty much without human intervention other than putting stuff in and taking stuff out.
Sure, spreadsheets are lightweight and pretty straightforward but the price to pay is, they don't allow you to do much : having a whole system similar to an OPAC, or using a database that manages your possessions would be pretty nice - allowing you to add informations like pictures, price, or even looking up information on an item from its barcode and automatically creating the corresponding information sheet.