After checking in at retailers, Booyah zooms in on products

Booyah product check-in barcode scanBooyah, the San Francisco-based company most famous for its location-based game MyTown, launched a new feature over the weekend for its service called the product check-in. In short, it means users can “check in” with a T-shirt, much like they check in at the actual store that sells such a garment.

The product check-in feature makes use of the iPhone’s camera. (Booyah’s game is exclusive to Apple’s platform, though the Android version is coming in the next few months). Players scan a product’s barcode, which unlocks points and virtual items in the game. There is also the chance of getting real-life in-store discounts on products, giving users a reason to go around scanning barcodes, and giving retailers a chance to build scavenger-hunt-style campaigns.

While this should make for a fun experience for gamers –- the scavenger-hunt being a popular pastime within the location-based gaming niche, and something that Scvngr for instance is making revenue on –- it’s all about making Booyah more relevant to retailers and big brands, which are seen as a boon for all location-based services (LBS).

“That’s totally correct,” said Booyah chief executive Keith Lee. “These stores care about validation of an activity, be it checking in, or holding a product, or actually buying a product.” Lee did not disclose the names of the partners yet, saying instead that the company will have a big announcement in a few weeks.

Lee said that retailers are going to get a very clear view on what products people are interested in by seeing which products they seek out and hold up for the camera, in essence letting them know what people are doing on an aisle in a store. Building a history of consumer behavior is something that many of the LBS are aiming for in order to be able to provide customers with targeted ads or special offers, and the product check-in seems to be another step in that direction, or, like Lee said, it is “getting closer to the actual point-of-sale.” And as far as consumers are concerned, Lee likened the functionality to a recommendation service that over time learns the preferences of users and knows what products to suggest to them.

Using barcodes to access digital content is not a new idea (Stickybits did it with PepsiCo, for instance) and neither is collecting customers’ purchase data (an idea that Blippy is built on). Plus, companies like Miso and Hot Potato allow checking into content like TV shows.

Booyah is taking a step into bringing more substance to the check-in, which is something all the players from Foursquare to Brightkite to Gowalla to Loopt and more are doing. This seems like something the other location services are certainly going to take a stab at, especially if it takes off for MyTown.