Saturday, February 17, 2007

Subliminal Advertising With A PWC/PWH Twist

The phone can read invisible images on printed paper. Image Credit: BBC NEWS

Subliminal Advertising With A PWC/PWH Twist

And you thought this digital … phone connection (hyperlink) stuff would never catch up with you.

Fujitsu has been working on a way (whitepaper PDF released July 2005) by which printed materials like advertisements, articles and other printed communications could lend themselves to be more effective and connected at the same time.

In a process called Steganography, Fujitsu has perfected a method whereby a reference barcode or QR Code can be embedded in a photo or other printed article and the reader of this printed material would be able to take a photo with his cellphone camera and instantly be connected (via physical world connection or hyperlink - PWC or PWH) to a website for additional information.

A hidden latent image is placed within the printed material that the human eye cannot see but the camera could pick-up and decode for additional functionality.

Excerpts from BBC NEWS -

Hiding messages in plain sight
Steganography can be embedded as part of the normal printing process
BBC NEWS - Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 07:35 GMT

A technology that can "hide" information in plain sight on printed images has begun to see the first commercial applications.

Japanese firm Fujitsu is pushing a technology that can encode data into a picture that is invisible to the human eye but can be decoded by a mobile phone with a camera.
"The concept is to be able to link the printed page into the digital domain," said Mike Nelson, general manager for sales operations at Fujitsu Europe.

The technique stems from a 2,500-year-old practice called steganography, which saw the Greeks sending warnings of attacks on wooden tablets and then covering them in wax and tattooing messages on shaved heads that were then covered by the regrowth of hair.

Fujitsu's technique works by taking advantage of the sensitivities of the human eye, which struggles to see the colour yellow.

"The key is to take the yellow hue in the picture and we skew that ever so slightly to create a pattern," said Mr Nelson.

"A camera is perfectly sensitive to that yellow hue but the human eye doesn't see it very well.

"Any camera, even those in mobile phones, can decode it very easily."

Pictures printed with the technique look perfectly normal but a camera can see the code printed into the image.

Screen image taken from a PDF whitepaper issued by Fujitsu titled "Steganography - Code Recognition Technology. Graphic example of how the PWH/Steganographic process works. Image Credit: Fujitsu PDF via ecj photo
That data could be a phone number, a message or a website link.

Printed materials can then connect to the online world by storing information which tells the phone to connect the web.

Almost any mobile phone can be used but a small java application must be downloaded before it can be used to decode the information. Other devices such as PDAs with a camera could also be used.
Once installed the same program can be used to read other codes on other products. It takes a few seconds for the phone to decipher the data.

And because most modern mobiles can connect to the net they act as a gateway to content that firms want to send to people who have decoded the steganographic pictures, such as music and video.

The first commercial use of the technology is in Japan where a Music Club has embedded codes into flyers it sends to subscribers.
Mr Nelson believes the technology is more useful than barcodes because of its invisibility and because it connects printed matter to the internet, via the phone.

"There's a lot of printed material out there today whether it be food wrappers, billboards, catalogues, phone directories and business cards and they are not going to go away.
"We need an added dimension to that flat material and linking that to the digital domain is what we are trying to do."

Mr Nelson does not believe steganography is competing with technologies such as RFID tags, tiny radio chips which can hold information and be scanned at a short distance.

"You have to physically mount a chip into the device - it's expensive and time consuming.

"Steganography can be embedded as part of the normal printing process."

Mr Nelson said he believed promotions and competition would drive take up of the technology as a prize would act as an incentive to use a mobile phone and download the decoding application.

Read All>>

No comments: