Made in USA cell phone app – we need this

Most of my cell phone app ideas I am keeping a secret until we get a non-disclosure agreement and funding, but this one I am posting on the internet. Please note the creative commons license associated with this information (and all content here at ideas and writings).

We need a made in the USA cell phone app. If we could take a picture with our camera phone of the bar code of things we buy to learn about how much of the product is made in the US, if any, people could make better informed purchasing decisions.

Maybe we should also be able to text the bare code and get info texted back, similar to google’s text information service. Maybe it should also work with a mobile browser. I’d like to get info about products when I purchase them to see if they are made in the USA, or if portions of the product are. I think there is a lot of confusion about what products are actually American made and from American owned companies for that matter.

I am not sure if our “American” car companies are even owned my Americans, or how much of them are. I am not sure how much of a given car is made in the USA and how much of it is imported. There are many brands that were once American made that are now being outsourced to Mexico and other places around the world, and people need to know. For years fluidmaster was a trusted brand name that had American owners and American workers created these important parts for toilets, but recently I learned (when a good friend was laid off) – that the new owners have outsourced most(?) of the parts making to Mexico and have moved shipping to cheaper places as well.

In this economy and with jobs being so important to our American economy, I believe people are genuinely interested in knowing more about the product and services they buy, and where the money is going when we buy them. I think a lot of us would be surprised to learn this information, but we really need a better way to find it! A cell phone app is perfect for this.

I would love to see QR codes being used along with bar codes to learn about a product, and it’s company. Who owns that company, where is the product made?

I imagine this could be funded with links to “find this item you are inquiring about on Ebay and Amazon”, etc.

It would be awesome to have a one click – tweet about the info you found out about this product – share with your friends that the fluidmaster part your plumber is replacing with another fluidmaster part is not made in the USA, etc.

Links to company info, and have people able to add additional information about products would be great to.

This idea is still in it’s development phase, I’m sure it can be made better, but I just thought of it today – it will take some time refine it. If you’d like to help, feel free to add comments, or send me an email – perhaps we can develop and market it together.

There is a web site I read about that let’s you type in information to get info about what is made in the USA – not sure if there is a mobile version, or if it would work on a cell phone browser. I am also not sure how complete their database is. Either, but if someone finds this post looking for the info – you may want to check there:

The cellphone application may need to be a wiki so people can add information, (moderated of course) – so we can all develop this info together.

Isn’t there some kind of certification, like ASO something or another for products that are 100% made in America? I can’t think of it right now with all this other code and ideas floating through my head.

Please note / disclaimer – information here about Fluidmaster, and any other company please realize I am not 100% sure of. I have just heard these things, and am using some company names to post examples. If I am wrong, please comment here and I will update.

Update 04-2011: I have really enjoyed seeing more web site popping up that offer information about made in America products. I have not had the time to check them all out to see how they are doing thing, and how accurate they are or are not. I am also really happy to see that world news is doing several stories about finding products that are made in America.

I have also responded to some of the comments below. I look forward to seeing this come about.

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6 Responses to Made in USA cell phone app – we need this

  1. Keri says:

    I love this idea!

    About three years ago, I heard about a new app that scanned barcodes. I thought it was going to find the cheapest prices for anything I scanned. To save money, I went out and bought the only phone that used this app. Like a child with a new toy, I scanned everything I could. I loved the app. It was the first of its kind as far as I know. Like other users, I quickly found that the app was limited. Don’t get me wrong, the app is great for larger priced items and electronics that you would find in large stores or online. It didn’t really help users find prices on smaller things like groceries in their area. I was upset about it at first but came to understand why.

    I still love the app but it lost its charm after a few days. I quit scanning everything I saw after awhile. However, when I was shopping for groceries, I noticed a bag of potatoes with a barcode. Above the bags, there was a “Made in Texas” sign (with a giant Texas flag in the background). I figured the sign was just a marketing ploy.

    I don’t know about other states, but Texans are very proud to support our local growers. Feeling that the sign may mislead shoppers, I pulled my phone out and scanned the bag. Not to my surprise, the bar code on the potatoes tracked back to a P.O. Box in Texas with no company name attached. I was able to use the app to look a little deeper. It only took a few minutes to track the bag of “local grown” potatoes to another P.O. Box- in New Jersey! Crazy, huh? If you think about it, it’s not really that hard to believe. It happens more than people know. Who would have thought the largest supplier in our country isn’t being honest?

    I’d love to see how your idea develops. It would be so great to see what other people find with a little bar code scanning and database lookup. I never found out where those bags of potatoes really came from. It looks like good ol’ Wally lied again. Surprise. Surprise.

    Recent events are making people question everything in “Big Business”. Places like have become a giant help for people trying to make better buying decisions- for their own protection. Having a database right at our fingertips would be a great service.

    Thank you for sharing your ideas.

  2. cmon says:

    C’mon people. Just do the right thing. Everything good flows from that. Do your part, do the right thing. You can do it.

  3. enorym says:

    I see the app exists now. This is a great thing! Im willing to help if there is any data input.

  4. Andy says:

    Just like the app that tells you where the cheapest nearby location is for your item, the USA app should tell you were you can purchase a similar item that is made in the USA.

    The database will be lacking unless you let your users help populate it. Once someone finds something that is (supposedly) made in the USA, they should scan the barcode and GPS location/store location and upload it to your database for you to investigate/verify.

    I would buy this app today.

    Similarly, I would like an app that shows me where I can buy local food and merchandise, not jut USA.

  5. D.Wade says:

    No takers on development of this app yet? I am sure there is a developer in China, or India that can knock this out ASAP for you……

  6. Steve says:

    @enorym – I am not sure that an app like this is out, are you aware of an app like this? If so please provide info.

    @Andy – excellent idea for extending this kind of app – I would love to see a list of restaurants and groceries that had local produce, and amounts / additional information.

    I think simply making an app with a group wiki could pull this off. Having qr codes and location awareness would make it easier. I have seen some news stories with Diane Sawyer talking about stuff being made in the usa – perhaps a database or wiki could be started with that information. IF google ever releases the “take a phone pic for instant search and recognize-ability” thing, having that kind of technology to take a picture, identify, and pull pertinent info from the, let’s call it “Made Where” app or something…
    It wouldn’t have to be a “made in the USA” app -but more of a “made where” app. I wonder what percentage of the new Nissan leaf will be made in the USA, with production and battery production happening in Smyrna TN soon, what percentage of parts are coming from here. I’d love to have similar info about the food in the area as well.
    What a great project this would be for the world.

    @Wade – ROFL

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