Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's Springtime For Symbology - Everything Is Coming Up Color

"Google BarCode" - "One of the 10 things Google should develop!" - Google Watch 1) Walk into a store (grocery, clothes, computer) 2) Take a picture of the barcode of an item 3) Get Froogle Local Search results of which nearby stores carry the same item more cheaply. - Google BarCode would even add in the cost of time and gas and only show those products which were lower overall. - In a twist on the system, merchants would be automatically informed if you located cheaper products and could then bid for your business by offering you an electronic coupon, a discount on the product in their store if you bought it in the next, say, half hour. Image Credit: Google Watch

It's Springtime For Symbology - Everything Is Coming Up Color

In a press release issued at the beginning of this week, Microsoft announced that it has reached a licensing agreement with a Swiss agency charged with administering the ISAN numbering system. What makes this announcement unique is that this agency plans on using a new twist on the old, tried and true, bar - space - bar methodology of automatic identification … a barcode in color! What this will do is add another dimension to the process of scanning the barcode that allows for greater information to be stored and greater security to be achieved.

The barcode technology that Microsoft Research has developed is known as “high color capacity barcode format”, or HCCB. This is not the first application of adding the element of color to a symbology … but it is the first time someone has placed color on a standard barcode format to deepen the ability of the barcode to store and secure information … while presumably keeping the integrity of the barcode to be scanned by linear laser scanners.

The only way to get the full benefit of the addition of color is to read the symbology with an imager/camera. Technologically, lasers can not discern color in that they are only able to read a standard barcode via a timeline analog approach (bar, space, bar, space) ... then convert the signal to digital in order to decode the barcode.

Excerpts from IT Jungle -

Microsoft Breaks the Color Barrier for Barcode
by Alex Woodie - The Windows Observer - Published: April 18, 2007

In the last 25 years, the IT industry has seen various improvements in labeling technology, starting with simple two-dimensional barcodes, more advanced three-dimensional barcodes, and, finally, radio frequency identification (RFID), the "barcode killer." Now, Microsoft is trying to infuse new life into the tired black-and-white barcoding scheme with a new colorized barcode format.
"The capability of these new bar codes to store more data in a smaller space should provide a rich resource for the industry and consumers alike," says Gavin Jancke, director of engineering for Microsoft Research. "The new code offers several advantages over existing black and white bar codes most people are accustomed to seeing on product packages, enabling new consumer experiences, more visual appeal where aesthetics are important, and the ability to incorporate advanced security features."

On Monday, Microsoft announced that the International Standard Audiovisual Number International Agency (ISAN-IA), the Swiss agency charged with administering the ISAN numbering system, has licensed HCCB technology and plans to incorporate it into an authentication system for weeding out legitimate motion pictures, video games, broadcasts, and digital video recordings from forgeries.

In addition to authentication, HCCB has other uses. As the technology improves, Microsoft envisions barcodes being displayed on TV or computer screens, on movie posters or DVD or CD cases, or on magazine ads or billboards. To get more info, consumers would scan these color barcodes with their camera-equipped cell phones or Web cams.
New security features can also be incorporated into the color barcode. Microsoft cites a company called DatatraceDNA that plans to use HCCB to build anti-counterfeiting security protection features that could be added during the manufacturing process of most products. The company refers to this process as Digital Nanoparticle Authentication, or DNA.

Patrick Attallah, CEO of ISAN-IA, says HCCP will allow media publishers to provide counterfeit protection and a means for providing additional interactive services to consumers. "The capabilities enabled by this combination of bar code technology and supporting software are important for everyone," he says.
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Additional Colorized Symbology Reference Posts:

3D Barcode - Auto ID "CUBED"

QR Based PM Code - The Best 3D Symbology Ever, Really!

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