Charity organisation Oxfam has today launched a new app which it hopes will bring a new dimension to items sold in its UK stores – and maybe even boost their value too.

Oxfam Shelflife is an iPhone app that interacts with items sold in Oxfam shops. At first it will use QR codes, but will also be able to support NFC in the future. The idea is that people donating goods to be sold in Oxfam shops will give it a QR code and then create an online presence for each item to tell the story behind it.

In the video below, we speak to two of the people involved in Oxfam Shelflife to find out more about the project.

So, that teddy bear on the shelf might look cute, but it could become all the more interesting if you learned that it was originally a gift to a girl who had just got top marks in her exams, before being passed to a new-born baby who was a child of the charity-loving local mayor. Suddenly that teddy bear has a history, and a context as to why it was there, sat on the shelf in a charity shop.

Collecting the stories of donated items may even boost their value, too. An academic study is being carried out on behalf of Oxfam to work out whether people will be willing to pay more for items with interesting stories.

Oxfam is initially trialling Shelflife in ten stores in the Greater Manchester area of northern England over the next eight weeks, but hopefully we’ll see this roll out more widely over time. It’s an evolution of an earlier ‘Internet of Things’ project called Tales of Things, which we reported on in 2010.

➤ Oxfam Shelflife