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Communications Technology

Admission Tickets as Text Messages 244

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hope-you-have-a-cell-phone dept.
lee1 writes to tell us that InfoWorld is reporting that Smartmachine and their partner Skidata have developed a new way to allow customers to purchase and receive tickets to events. The new ticketing system allows users to "have a ticket sent to their mobile phone via SMS (Short Message Service) in the form of a 2D (two-dimensional) bar code. At the gate, they slide their mobile phone display showing the bar code by a bar code reader." The new technology also claims to help combat the counterfeit, pilferage, and repeat use that can be such a problem for paper tickets.
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Admission Tickets as Text Messages

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  • by Kittyflipping (840166) * on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:54PM (#14502877) Homepage
    themselves! And to add value to the consumer, they will (automatically) sign you up for text messages about upcoming events that may be (but probably aren't) of interest to you! Sorry for the cynicism, but I haven't found ticketing agencies to be all that honest (e.g. Fandango signed me up for a subscription to a 3rd party children's website because I clicked on an ad for a few bucks off my purchase. I read the ad and closed it; it wasn't anything I was interested in because I didn't have kids. Unbeknownst to me, Fandango had sent my credit card information to this site and signed me up!)
    • by east coast (590680) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:04PM (#14503018)
      Sorry for the cynicism

      I doubt few would disagree with you... Look at ticketmaster. The last time I bought a ticket via TM I was charged somewhere about 8 USD for a "convience fee". I bought the ticket online and picked the ticket up at the box office. So what's the convience? The fact that I did my own order entry and seating research instead of tying up one of their customer services sales reps on the phone for 15 minutes on an 800 number? The fact that they didn't have to put the ticket in an envelope and mail it to me? I SAVED them money by doing my business on the internet and still I got smacked with a fee as if doing things on my own is somehow easier....

      Wait, yeah, considering the level of competence of the average sales rep, I guess it was more convient.
      • by mottie (807927) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:40PM (#14503455)
        Ticketmaster actually charges MORE for you to print your own tickets. How ridiculous is that? It's cheaper to go to their counter, use their clerk's time, and use their ink/paper.. I didn't realize that it cost so much to send PDFs out by email. They must be using Adobe Acrobat Professional or something..
        • It's the same thing with some of the movie theaters here in Belgium: you can (1) buy tickets via the Internet and print it yourself, (2) buy tickets on a machine with your debet or credit card or (3) buy it the old-fashioned way from a real human being. Last time I checked, (1) and (2) or more expensive than (3). I guess there are some things that I will never understand.
        • They used to actually claim somewhere on their site that the extra charge for TicketFast was to defray the cost of developing the technology to do it. I would guess that somewhere after taking in several thousand times their cost they decded that argument didn't fly anymore and took that line off the site.
  • Plan B (Score:5, Insightful)

    by biocute (936687) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:54PM (#14502889) Homepage
    I sure hope they have taken into account for SMS delay, SMS MIA, deleted SMS, lost mobile phone, hacked/guessed barcode and whatnot. In short, is there a Plan B when someone lost this eTicket, or a cracker guessed/keygened a barcode and used it before the real owner did?

    Paperless ticketing, while important, will only cause monetary loss, imagine if a country is crazy enough to adapt paperless voting where voters don't get a "vote receipt" in case something or someone messed up the results.
    • Re:Plan B (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:57PM (#14502930) Journal
      Hmm, why would the barcode need to be hacked/guessed? Why not just pull it straight out of the air? Or is SMS more secure than I thought?

      imagine if a country is crazy enough to adapt paperless voting where voters don't get a "vote receipt" in case something or someone messed up the results.

      What, you mean like the US of A?
      • Re:Plan B (Score:4, Informative)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:09PM (#14503084) Homepage Journal
        HTH: GSM Security FAQ [gsm-security.net]
      • Re:Plan B (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aonaran (15651) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:24PM (#14503279) Homepage
        Wow, if ticket takers are willing to accept a barcode displayed on an LCD I imagine that it'll only be a matter of tiem till someone writes a Java phone program that quickly cycles through a bunch of random barcode numbers till it hits on one that the system accepts.

        You'd probably have several seconds to do it before the person scanning it gives up trying to scan the "bad phone display" and tries another way to verify the ticket.
        • Re:Plan B (Score:3, Interesting)

          by djtack (545324)
          Not likely to work, imagine 50,000 tickets, and a 16-byte bar code. That gives a 50000/2**128 chance to guess one at random. If you could scan a hundred codes per second, it would take 2**128/50000/3600/24/365/100 = 2.2e+24 years to get one right, which is about 160 trillion times the age of the known universe.
          • Re:Plan B (Score:3, Informative)

            by aonaran (15651)
            That's assuming no prior knowledge of what constitutes a valid bar code.
            I seriously doubt that the bar codes would be completely random numbers.
            • For that matter I serously doubt that the bar codes map to any Non-alphanumeric characters in ASCII that alone brings your set of possibilitys down to a more manageable chunk.
        • Hey get this,

          With bluetooth you could even make the process disributed between many phones, once one gets the right block it lets evreyone else in on the find and narrows it down!
      • Why guess the bar code? Just send it on to multiple phones. The system could allow the first one through and block any duplicates. Which works great as long as all that communications gear is up and running. Would take a minor glitch and none of those tickets could be validated.

        imagine if a country is crazy enough to adapt paperless voting where voters don't get a "vote receipt" in case something or someone messed up the results.

        The voters don't get a vote receipt. There needs to be a paper trail
    • Re:Plan B (Score:3, Insightful)

      by op12 (830015)
      Not to mention with so many cellphones with cameras, would it be that hard to take a picture of someone else's barcode?
    • I sure hope they have taken into account for SMS delay, SMS MIA, deleted SMS, lost mobile phone, hacked/guessed barcode and whatnot. In short, is there a Plan B when someone lost this eTicket, or a cracker guessed/keygened a barcode and used it before the real owner did?

      Why would you expect them to?

      Brick and mortar places don't care if you lose a gift certificate, for example. If you lose your paper ticket, you can't convince them you really did buy a ticket but must have accidentally flushed it when you w

      • Re:Plan B (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CharlieHedlin (102121)
        Texas Motor speedway uses paper tickets with barcodes. They scan on entrance and exit to allow readmission. I am fairly certain I could take a color copy of a ticket and get right in, or even copy the barcode to a blank piece of paper. I have always had season tickets, but I believe they even offer an email delivery option for the tickets now.

        The barcodes apear to be randomly generated and of sufficient length to stop anyone from brute force hacking when the validation is checked by a person standing with
  • by slart42 (694765) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:56PM (#14502916)
    I've seen the same system in use for public transport tickets in Helsinki. People send an sms to some number, and the fare is deducted from their phone bill. As a proof of purchase the get a text message, which can be shown to the conductor on ticket controls..
  • by east coast (590680) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:56PM (#14502918)
    How will I save my ticket stub for my collection? Ticket stubs are badges of honor among certain fans.
  • by slapout (93640) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:57PM (#14502921)
    So you buy the ticket on your cell phone, have to bring the phone to the theater with you, and then the first thing they tell you when you sit down is "Please turn off your cell phone"?
  • Old news in Korea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neoshmengi (466784) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:57PM (#14502927) Journal
    The Koreans have been doing this for years. To promote it they gave you a discount if you used the cell phone technique.

    It makes a lot of sense. It's convenient to order the tickets, also via cell phone, and then you don't have to wait in line. And everyone there has a cell phone.

    Funfact: In South Korea when you buy a movie ticket, you can buy a particular seat, like at a sports game.
    • And... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Poromenos1 (830658)
      What happens if you accidentally delete the message (some phones delete messages if you remove the battery or whatever)? Can they resend it to you, or are you SOL?

      P.S. You can order seats here in Greece too, in large multiplexes.
    • Fun fact: It confused me as hell when I decided to see Serenity at my last visit in the U.S. There were a few different codes on the ticket. I really tried to figure out which one might be the seat. After a while, I decided that it was hopefully free seating. (Of course, the seating is sometimes free in Sweden, in really small cinemas or unofficial screenings.)

      Thanks to Yahoo for giving me the free tickets!

      • After a while, I decided that it was hopefully free seating.

        Cultural tip for those from outside the US: here, it is extremely rare for movie showings to have assigned seating. In almost all cases, moviegoers are welcome to sit in any free seat in the theater once they have been admitted.

        Other types of events -- sports, theater, classical music -- most often DO have assigned seats. Popular music concerts are split: often there will be reserved seating and unreserved standing room in different parts of the

    • Funfact: In South Korea when you buy a movie ticket, you can buy a particular seat, like at a sports game.


      There are assigned seating movie theatres here in the USA as well (I've been to a few of them in New York City), though obviously the general admission style is a lot more common.
    • So are you, in essence, saying that
      "In Korea, only old people buy cell-phone tickets?"
    • Funfact: In South Korea when you buy a movie ticket, you can buy a particular seat, like at a sports game.

      You CAN'T? I don't think I've ever been to one where you can't. Much better system, no waiting long in advance and/or rushing to get good seats. For the best seats you need to book when the ticket sales open, like the LotR movies we generally reserved in september for seats in december (no, we didn't stand out and freeze to death, those got *the* best seats but...) Then again we wanted the best seats at
      • Re:Old news in Korea (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        Well that's clearly a silly system. If you book a specific seat in advance, then how are they going to make you sit through the trailers and ads? Turning up in time to get a good seat is about the only incentive they have at the moment.

        For the record, in the UK it depends on the cinema. My local one only rarely assigns seating (RotS had assigned seats, I can't think of anything else that did) and most of the time I have been there only about 20% of seats have been taken when I've arrived about ten min

  • Oh good... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quaoar (614366) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:58PM (#14502935)
    Now people will have a REASON for bringing their cell phones to a movie...*Grumble*
  • by LM741N (258038) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @03:58PM (#14502945)
    Hey man- there's some bad RAM going around out there. Be careful.
  • Given that almost every mobile phone company has either in their TOS, or in disclaimers, that they cannot guarantee the arrival of text messages, I don't see how this could work reliably. Arguments could constantly be made that "the message never came", etc.

    Also, there are still a lot of people without cell phones, or with older ones that won't display high-res enough graphics for the bar codes to be scanned.

    Bad idea jeans, IMHO.
  • Do they mean MMS? I suspect so, as they're not even talking about GSM:
    "In addition, users must have mobile phones supporting packet-based technologies, such as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) or 3G (third-generation)"
    • If they're talking about GPRS [gsmworld.com], then they're talking about GSM [gsmworld.com].
      • True, true... still called GSM when GPRS piggybacks... Still, not SMS right?
        • Re:SMS? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816)
          You can send SMS via TCP/IP over GPRS. If you have internet but not SMS you can reconfigure your phone to do this, and save a bundle.
          • You can send SMS via TCP/IP over GPRS. If you have internet but not SMS you can reconfigure your phone to do this, and save a bundle.

            Can you explain a bit further? I have a new phone with an unlimited data plan, but they still charge me $.10 for each incoming/outgoing SMS message, and $.25 for each incoming/outgoing MMS message.

            I've explored all the options on my phone, but perhaps my phone doesn't allow such a setting, or I'm missing something.
    • Re:SMS? (Score:3, Funny)

      by mendaliv (898932)
      Maybe they're ASCII art barcodes.
  • by Naomi_the_butterfly (707218) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:02PM (#14502992)
    Dang... we've been using that in israel for movies for years. Just a number in text message, though, no barcode. They type it in and check that the credit card you have with you matches the card that that ticket number is registered under and you're in.
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:02PM (#14502997) Homepage Journal
    Right, cause no one can figure out how to get a phone to draw a bar code except this company...

    They can counterfeit a barcode on a ticket to get into Madison Square Garden. They can most certainly figure out how to draw the image on a phone's screen.
    • When used properly, unique numbers (with or without a barcode) are a good method for providing security. You assign psuedorandom values in a range to purchasers and then register the numbers in the database as valid for a particular event. The numbers can be checked at the location of the event. I'm getting ready to propose a ticketing system to my employer (currently we mark off sold seats on a piece of paper with the seating diagram printed on it, and sell tickets manually by phone, no internet sales) and
  • Excellent... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sgt_Jake (659140)
    Now we can further separate the technocracy from the unwashed masses who don't have cell phones or know how to use them. Holding the population in thrall is becoming easier every day...
    • Now we can further separate the technocracy from the unwashed masses who don't have cell phones or know how to use them. Holding the population in thrall is becoming easier every day...

      Did you see "Blackhawk Down"? Remember the scene when the US troops start their airlift into Mogadishu? Remember the little boy on the rooftop, reporting their movement with a (wait for it...) cell phone?? And that happened over 10 years ago, and cell phones were still common enough in one of the poorest nations on earth that
  • Let's see now, allowing the FBI to go to the library to see what books you've been reading is BAD, but a system that allows practically anybody to track what movies, concerts, sporting events, etc. you go to is GOOD?!? (And I have no doubt that this data will be available to anyone willing to pay for it, as much of your cell phone records already are!)
  • ...the problems of legitimate paying customers whose credit cards will be charged but who will be unable to gain admission because their cell phone is unexpectedly incompatible, has a display that for whatever reason isn't readable, battery goes dead while waiting in line, whatever...

  • by whyde (123448) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:08PM (#14503066)
    ...by an NSA agent.
  • The one advantage to a paper ticket is that you don't have to buy anything extra and you can save the stub for your collection.
  • So what if you're a Luddite who use his cell phone only as a phone? Heck, I'm still waiting for the paperless office.
  • by tm2b (42473)
    I wonder how long it'll be before they simply have your RFID tag (or the RFID tag of your consumer loyalty card, or whatever) and you'll just be able to walk through the fast entry lane (either having prepurchased, or automatically getting a seat assignment upon entry).
  • Are those SMS? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fr4ncis (763671) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:21PM (#14503253) Homepage
    Are you sure they send SMS? Short Message Service [wikipedia.org] is used to send just plain text, while MMS [wikipedia.org] (Multimedia Messaging Service) is used to send images as well as music and other nice stuff. I'm not sure you can compose a bar code with an SMS message!
    • Re:Are those SMS? (Score:2, Informative)

      by EricJay (945580)
      Mobile barcoding can be done via EMS [wikipedia.org], which is still technically an SMS transmission... however, the linked article mentions that "users must have mobile phones supporting packet-based technologies, such as GPRS or 3G," so they might be sending a web-link to the barcode image via SMS and relying on the handset's browser to display it.
    • I'm not sure you can compose a bar code with an SMS message!

      That's what the filter "|" symbol is for.
      | || | ||| | |||| || ||
  • You insensitive clod!
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:26PM (#14503298) Homepage Journal
    ...back in 2004: Hi-tech ticketing for India-Australia Test [oneindia.com]

    FTA:

    The tickets would be delivered directly to their mobile phones. At the venue, they only need to place their phones on the sensor installed at the gates for entering the stadium. Spice Telecom and Karnataka State Cricket Association, after their "successful" and ongoing joint venture of Future Strokes, have again come together to launch the Mobile Ticketing in association with ConvergeLabs, a Spice Telecom release said.

  • Once the ticket is data (ie an SMS message) why can't it just be forwarded to all your friends?
    • Sure can. And the first one to the theater wins. The second through nth one though, probably including yourself, is told that the ticket has already been used. Problem solved. Well, for the theater, and one of your friends.
  • They didn't invent this.
    http://www.zippline.com/ [zippline.com]
    • You can already use this in Australia as well... I mean, yeash... my company was going to use this as a ticketing system for music venues over a year ago... I don't know whether it was the lot you linked to... but this article claiming these guys came up with it is just crud.
  • by CaptainZapp (182233) * on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:47PM (#14503562) Homepage
    Those geezers and geezettes came up with such a brilliant scheme via MMS ticket and are wondering now, why they sold a whopping 3000 as opposed to the 8 million paper tickets they sold in the same time period. Let me explain the procedure:

    Step 1 : You sign up for the service

    Step 2 : You call a toll ladden phone # and order your MMS ticket
    Step 3 : You receive your MMS ticket for exactly the same price as if you would have bothered an official ticket seller

    If you are missing an option to order your ticket via a web site free of charge you are probably not alone.

    Those blitzes of brilliance with which marketing bozos can come up with truely mystify me at times.

  • How exactly does one render a 2D barcode in a text message? Surely the article heading was meant to be "Admission Tickets as MMS" or "Admission Tickets as SMS".
  • by Peldor (639336)
    What they really need is a second barcode I can scan for a full refund if I walk out in the first half-hour because the movie is complete crap. Or the sound system is hosed. Or the theatre is populated by talking idiots. Or any of the other myriad reasons people don't like wagering $20 trying to get a little entertainment at a movie these days.
  • This was invented (and patented) in NZ about 5 years ago. I knew one of the people working on it. He told me you have to use a CCD camera to scan the barcode, rather than a basic barcode scanner, to avoid problems with reflections off of the phone.

    The article is light on details, I wonder if the system is different or if there is some collaboration going on.

  • I've always thought this would be a great way to reduce scalping. When you sell someone a ticket, don't print the actual seat information on the ticket, but instead print a hash of some sort (I thought of this like 20 years ago, so I didn't really think of barcodes). If you want to verify the seat, you can take it to any ticketmaster outlet and scan it, which will tell you what seat it's for, but won't give you any kind of official-looking printout.

    So if you want to scalp the ticket, you have to actually
  • So, what happens when you want to buy two tickets to an event? Do I have to have two transactions and give them the cellphone numbers of everyone?

    It kind of ruins the element of surprise as well. "Hey, guess what, I got tickets for that concert you really wanted to go to!" "I know, I got the message already."

    Z.
  • So.. a two-dimensional barcode, as opposed to those holographic three-dimensional bar codes that we're all used to? I think it may be safe to say that all bar codes are two-dimensional.
  • Orange in the UK have been running something like this for ages. Text some stuff, and you get a code that lets you have 2 tickets for one. Orange Wednesdays [orange.co.uk].
  • Bar codes seem like techo-glitz rather than the most practical solution,
    plus creates equipment limitations on customers.

    Why not just use the credit card used for purchase as the "ticket"? The
    confirmation code for the credit card transaction is the e-ticket ID.
    Alternatively, use a driver's license or other ID. Just swipe the card,
    and possibly check the physical card. Radio linked portable equipment with
    card reader, keypad, and receipt printer already exists.

    One could buy an e-ticket by phone, SMS, https, etc

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