A Real World Example of A/B Website Testing

A/B testing has gained a lot of interest in recent years as a practical method for improving the results from websites.  My business partner and I produced a mobile application, RecallCheck that relied on a database we created from FDA and USDA websites.  During our project, the FDA introduced a new website for reporting food related issues called the:  Reportable Food Registry.  For our purposes (using a mobile phones to scan bar codes), the result we most cared about was the quality and quantity of UPC codes.  Below is a detailed statistical analysis of before and after the FDA made it’s changes with regard to the quantity of UPC codes included in published recall notices.   While our interest was the UPC codes, the same process can be applied to any change on a website. Continue reading


RecallCheck Post-Mortem

Recently, I’ve been answering a lot of questions about about RecallCheck, which was an Android based mobile application to allow uses to scan UPC bar codes on packaged food and find out about any recent recalls involving that product.  Developing and marketing RecallCheck, I worked with my business partner Scott. With the project is now over, I’d like to cover some of the learnings and reasons I believe we were ultimately unsuccessful. Continue reading

The Best Business Card App for Android (or any other Smart Phone)

One of the best business card tricks you can use is to turn your contact info into a bar code that can then be scanned into most smart phones. While this post will deal with the free bar code scanner from The Google for Android, apps are available for iPhone,RIM’s Blackberry, and Nokia’s Symbian OS. By encoding the information on your business card in a QR Code, any one with a modern mobile smart phone, like Android, can then scan the information directly onto their phone.  This blog post will walk you through creating the bar code and using the Android app to read the business card information.  Continue reading

Understanding FDA Recalls

At Agorasys, we’ve just published a market research report that provides  summary statistics for FDA food recalls, a statistical analysis of important trends, and a qualitative analysis of important issues within the recall notices, with a special emphasis on how existing practices impact emerging mobile technologies like our RecallCheck product.   This report is based on our unique database of recalls developed to support our mobile RecallCheck product that enables users to scan bar codes with their cell phones and find out if the product has been recalled.

Who should read this report:

  • Decision makers seeking to understand the recall landscape
  • Communications specialists helping firms with recall related communications
  • Packaged food marketers
  • Food safety professionals
  • Journalists
  • Food safety consumer advocates

The report’s table of contents is available here

A Neat Android Feature–Finding Apps with QR Codes

The above image is a QR Code.  These two d codes are remarkably versatile.  You can store just about any text in them.  Things typically encoded this way include contact information, addresses,  and web urls.  Most smart phone manufacturers  support at least scanning the contact information (e.g VCARD), but Google supports a whole range of other uses.

One of the more interesting uses Google supports is encoding a text string representing an application in the Google Market.  When the example above is scanned into a Android based phone, it will launch an app I’ve been working on called RecallCheck (see below for more details).

This week the Google announced it was implementing QR Code stickers for businesses to put in their window.  When scanned into an Google Android phone, they will bring up information about the business from Google.  Expect to see a lot more about QR codes in the coming years as they work to connect the physical world with the Internet via phones.

Updating RecallCheck to Version 2.0

At Agorasys, we’ve updated our RecallCheck program to version 2.  With this version, we now have an online database of food recalls based on the fda recall site that we search, instead of launching a web search based on variations of the barcode.  With this new structure we are able to offer better results.  One cool new feature of the improved results is the ability to call the recalling company directly from the application.

Because not all of the FDA recalls include barcodes (e.g. bulk peanuts), it isn’t possible to see all of the results in our database yet.  Our next feature will be adding a keyword search that allows for searching across all of the recalls using words instead of barcodes in order to easily find recalls based on manufacturer, food type, recall reason etc.

A New Product for Food Safety

A recent study from Rutgers asserts that more than 80% of Americans pay close attention to information about food recalls, but that only 61% have ever looked for a recalled product in their home.  While this might be a surprise for food researchers, any one with a busy home can understand these statistics.  First you have to know about the recall.  Then you have to search for the potential product.  Then you have find the notice on the Internet to determine whether your particular grocery (e.g Pistachios) is covered by the recall.  I’m amazed that 61% of the respondents actually looked.

But we have a better way.  My partner and I have created a new application for phones based on the Android operating system (e.g. TMobile’s G1) that allows users to scan the bar code directly from the package and search the US Food and Drug Administration’s website for product recall notices about that specific product.  The application is: RecallCheck.

With RecallCheck it just takes seconds to scan the bar code and find out whether the product in your kitchen is covered by an FDA recall.