In re this article on today's front page about other uses for CueCats (posted in my personal space 'cause I'm "JAFO" here):
I think it would be a more useful application of our talents to come up with a totally open version of the CueCat hardware, software, and service.
It wouldn't be all that hard. From what I've seen of the deconstruction of the hardware, it's just a really low budget bar code reader. You can buy a reader if you're not all that handy and you can spare a few hundred bucks at the low end - they're even touted as "Linux compatible", working as a second keyboard with only the code handling software aimed at a particular platform.
CueCat goes even lower end, offloading a lot of the work to the machine it's attached to. That makes cheaper and simpler hardware possible, adding the requirement of some apparently fairly simple software to make sense of the incoming bit stream.
The other feature CueCat could and might offer is connection to the network and lookups in the database. This is neat, but it wasn't designed to do things like, as a followup said, tie useful data to the scanned code. If I scan my Hot Pockets box, can CueCat tell if I want to cook one or order another? I'd hate to get set to cook up a Hot Pocket feast, scan the code 8 time to cook 8 pies, and place an order for 8 boxes while my microwave still flashes 12:00 because I haven't yet set the clock.
No, a purpose built scanner and extensible software is the only way to go...