The CueCat, styled :CueCat with a leading colon, is a cat-shaped handheld barcode reader that was given away free to Internet users starting in 2000 by the now-defunct Digital Convergence Corporation. The CueCat was named CUE for the unique bar code which the device scanned and CAT as a play on "Keystroke Automation Technology" and it enabled a user to open a link to an Internet URL by scanning a barcode — called a "cue" by Digital Convergence — appearing in an article or catalog or on some other printed matter. In this way, a user could be directed to a web page containing related information without having to enter a URL. The company asserted that the ability of the device to direct users to a specific URL, rather than a domain name, was valuable. In addition, television broadcasters could use an audio tone in programs or commercials that, if a TV was connected to a computer via an audio cable, acted as a web address shortcut.
By year-end 2001, codes were no longer available for the device and scanning with the device no longer yielded results. However, third-party software can decode the lightweight encryption in the device, allowing it to be used as a general-purpose wand-type barcode reader. The CueCat can read several common barcode types, in addition to the proprietary CUE barcodes promoted by Digital Convergence.
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