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Microsoft Tag, Smartphone-Scannable Barcodes

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the cue-cat-lives dept.

Cellphones 258

dhavleak writes "Microsoft Research has come up with Microsoft Tag: '...just aim your camera phone at a Tag and instantly access mobile content, videos, music, contact information, maps, social networks, promotions, and more. Nothing to type, no browsers to launch!' Device support is fairly extensive (iPhone, WinMo, BlackBerry and more), and tag scanning appears to work quickly and reliably from different distances and angles. Long Zheng has an overview on his site. The Tag is similar to a barcode, but has obvious visual differences — colored vs. black and white, and triangles vs. squares or lines. The technology looks interesting, but will it get the adoption necessary to be successful? What applications do you see for such technology?"

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258 comments

Nokia did that already (4, Interesting)

chetbox (1335617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430415)

Nokia have had something similar for ages, but the adoption hasn't been all that quick: http://mobilecodes.nokia.com/ [nokia.com] However Microsoft do seem to be making it more obvious to the observer that you need a phone to decode these mysterious images.

Re:Nokia did that already (2, Informative)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430531)

Nokia had it for ages? Heck the CueCat [cuecat.com] had it some time ago. Seriously, big deal.

GNAA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26430795)

Whatever happened to those guys? Man, they were great.

Re:GNAA (1)

Golliwogg (1444293) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431021)

September 11 2007

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.________________________________________________.
| ______________________________________._a,____ | Press contact:
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ | Gary Niger
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| _________j1___________________________________ | All other inquiries:
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| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ | enid_al_punjabi@gnaa.us [mailto]
| ______-"!^____________________________________ | GNAA World Headquarters
` _______________________________________________' 160-0023 Japan Tokyo-to Shinjuku-ku Nishi-Shinjuku 3-20-2

Copyright (c) 2003-2006 Gay Nigger Association of America [www.gnaa.us]

It's beautiful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431237)

Such great memories. Though, sadly, a look at the GNAA Corporate Homepage [gnaa.us] would suggest that they've either gone completely tits-up or just stopped making press releases.

Re:wtf????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431267)

What... the... FUCK was that? I know this place gets a lot of trolls but honestly what the fuck was that? I think my head is about to explode.

Re:wtf????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431315)

"You must be new here." The GNAA was perhaps the single most significant staple of the flourishing Slashdot troll culture until about a year ago when they seemed to have disappeared from the face of the Internet.

Re:Nokia did that already (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26430973)

Yes, but the CueCat was a special-purpose device. If the function is in your phone then it's much more useful.

Re:Nokia did that already (3, Insightful)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430589)

Several people have had 'barcodes' for phones, but the problem has always been one of image recognition. I've just tried my WinMo phone on the image on the MS website, off my screen. I was quite impressed at how well it managed to cope actually - it doesn't seem to require particularly much image quality to differentiate the layout, which is quite a step ahead of the 'snowflakes' I've seen doing this sort of thing before.

Re:Nokia did that already (3, Informative)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430771)

Similar but not the same - the combination of color/shapes seems to make the pattern recognition for this very reliable and quick. If you have a smartphone give it a shot and you'll see what I mean. The code in your link is a QR code -- scanning one of those is usually hit-or-miss (and usually more miss than hit).

Another key difference - a QR code stores the data in the code itself, limiting what you can do with it. These Tags are just a GUID or something like it. The scanning app on your phone will send that number to a service (MS hosted -- that's the monetization I guess). The service responds with the data - which could be a message, URL, vCard, or phone number.

I can see a bunch of useful applications for stuff like this:
- Flight Arrival/Departure Info: tags can be posted at easily visible locations around the airport with a sign "scan here for arrival/departure info".
- Business Cards: You could print a tag (with your vCard associated with it) on your business card. Now for a business contact to get your contact info, all they have to do is scan the tag. No fiddling with data entry on a tiny-ass qwerty to enter a name, phone number, etc.

Re:Nokia did that already (1)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430805)

... give it a shot and you'll see what I mean ...

Forgot to mention: Easiest way to install it is to point your phone to http://gettag.mobi/ [gettag.mobi]

To give it a whirl, scan any of the tags in this article [istartedsomething.com] (same as the main story link).

Re:Nokia did that already (2, Informative)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431333)

Well I gave it a try on my HTC S730 [htc.com] because I have nothing else to do at work. The camera is a pretty shitty 2 megapixel with no autofocus, but it seems to work quite well. The tags are 15mm across once printed and are reliably detected from about 15cm away in rather average lighting (diffuse sunlight, the paper is in the shadow behind some equipment). Doesn't have to be straight down either, something like 45 degrees usually works fine too. Oh, scanning them from the monitor works too, but I thought that won't be a very realistic usage scenario.

Despite the usual "HURRR M$" sentiment, I think this could be pretty useful, and the implementation is already rather decent. Some people mentioned that color is a drawback, but I don't think so. Most advertising and packaging material I come across nowadays is in color, the only exceptions are perhaps the crappy flyers people try to stick in my face in public places, and I don't care about what's on them anyway.

Re:Nokia did that already (1)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431471)

Apparently, they aren't too sensitive to color distortions -- the data seems to be stored in the brightness as opposed to the color. I don't really understand the technical stuff behind it, but see here for an example of monochrome or two-tone tags that work [istartedsomething.com]

Re:Nokia did that already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431149)

Actually, the barcodes in the OP's link are Datamatrix.

Re:Nokia did that already (1)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431235)

You're right -- my bad -- those are Datamatrix codes.

Re:Nokia did that already (1)

Slorv (841945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431261)

QR-codes [denso-wave.com] , Data Matrix [wikipedia.org] , Beetagg, etc . there are alot of 2D codes [wikipedia.org] around.
Now MS has decided to add yet another one.

The advantage of keeping the info inside the code is you are not dependant on a serviceprovider to interpret the code. That's maybe a key feature here when involving MS (and Beetagg an a few more).

Many services uses a subscription based system where a 2D-code, only has a function as long as the subscription beeing paid. Guess what system MS in using? Real info or interpreted/serverbased?

Please stay away from those and use codes that has real info in them, just like normal barcodes.

Re:Nokia did that already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431435)

Another key difference - a QR code stores the data in the code itself, limiting what you can do with it. These Tags are just a GUID or something like it. The scanning app on your phone will send that number to a service (MS hosted -- that's the monetization I guess). The service responds with the data - which could be a message, URL, vCard, or phone number.

How exactly is QR more limited? It can store arbitrary data including web links. This Microsoft thing can only store links to Microsoft's server.

Re:Nokia did that already (1)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431573)

It's possible that I'm wrong about that. Is there a standard for QR codes that describes the formatting of say, a URL or a vCard, etc. etc.? Such a standard would be required for a QR code scanning app to handle the information intelligently (for example, recognize that it just scanned in a URL, so launch web-browser and go there). This scenario works pretty well for Microsoft Tags right now.

The other thing I was implying regarding the limit - if you have a 100-word message that you need to convey - a QR code with that much information becomes impossible to scan with a cellphone camera. A Microsoft Tag will just work because the message itself isn't encoded in the tag.

Having said that, if you don't have a data connection, you're SOL right there.

Re:Nokia did that already (1)

mad_robot (960268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431481)

I can see a bunch of useful applications for stuff like this: - Flight Arrival/Departure Info: tags can be posted at easily visible locations around the airport with a sign "scan here for arrival/departure info".

What's wrong with a big TV screen showing a list of flight arrival/departure times? Wouldn't that make life just a little bit easier?

Re:Nokia did that already (1)

117 (1013655) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430929)

those must be the giant things that seem to have appeared on cans of Pepsi Max in the UK of late, I guessed it must be something like that but I couldn't see anything on the can telling me exactly what I'm supposed to do with it (and frankly I wasn't bothered anyway, I buy a can of Pepsi because I want something to mix with my Jameson, not because I want some kind of 'added value' content)....

Re:Nokia did that already (1)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431065)

Yeah -- those are QR codes [2d-code.co.uk] . If you have a G1 (I think) or Nokia you should be able to scan that..

Re:Nokia did that already (2, Informative)

crazycheetah (1416001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431209)

Oh god, thank you. I was thinking either someone has to point out how this has been done at least a couple times or my head was going to explode. Especially with this being slashdot.

I wasn't thinking Nokia, exactly, though. I was actually thinking about my Palm Treo 700w (yeah, with Windows Mobile), where the majority of the applications I used were downloaded with a similar method. The only thing I don't recall ever using is the colored barcodes, but I can't say that gets me the least bit excited about this one.

Well, and the part about it really just holding a unique ID to get information from Microsoft's servers. But that annoys me more than excites me. I'm sure Microsoft has a great setup with their servers, but I'm always cautious over one company's servers holding it all. The idea where, even if one server holding something I wanted went down, there was at the very least a possibility of finding something similar elsewhere. Plus, it rather gives Microsoft control over what they even put on it, which I'm not a big fan of. It can work, but I like to have every bit of control I can have over the things I own. Which is why I don't, and probably won't, have an (unhacked) iPhone. Yeah, I lose in some respects by that, but for things like my phone, I'll take my complete freedom over features any day. Yeah, the free software movement spoils me a bit...

QR code? (5, Informative)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430421)

sounds like QR Code [wikipedia.org] which is widely used in Japan (it's what the CueCat [wikipedia.org] couldn't do in the states).

Microsoft...always trying to re-invent the wheel and try to pass it on as a new invention.

Re:QR code? (0, Troll)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430445)

Microsoft...always trying to re-invent the wheel and try to pass it on as a new invention.

[troll] A truly American company ![/troll]

Re:QR code? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431307)

Self-aware troll? This is impossible!

Re:QR code? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430541)

It's also used here in Sweden by at least one major newspaper.

So yes, they're catching on a trend here. It can be used to cram more content into a limited space. Good if a company is trying to cut costs by not making thicker newspapers. Annoying if you don't want to context switch from reading a newspaper at your leisure, and having to start browsing on a tiny mobile phone. :-p

Re:QR code? (1)

Smask (665604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430813)

What you're thinking of is the Swiss Beetagg [beetagg.com] (hexagonal dots) system. There are a special Beetagg reader that also reads QR code and semacode tags.

Re:QR code? (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430615)

The CueCat was the first thing I thought of as well. The trouble with these technologies is that I've never understood how the usefulness outweighed the inconvenience. The only interesting one I've heard about is for the G1 (android based phone). It lets you compare the price of something in online stores and nearby brick and mortars - pretty nifty.

Re:QR code? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430823)

I'd like to see them on more advertisements. If I see an advert I'm interested in I often take a photo of the URL with my phone to remind myself. If QR codes were used that would be better.

But, I see most adverts while I'm on foot or seated: on the train, while walking in the street, on a bus, or an escalator. Generally I have the chance to stop and take a photo. If you only ever drive past advertisements this won't be very useful.

Re:QR code? (1)

atamagabakkaomae (1241604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430825)

Especially when it comes to cellphones a lot of things seem to be adapted from Japan. Such as the navigation capabilities of the iphone (all the mobile mapping stuff has been around for years here) or social networking applications (checking on actvities in your friendship circle, social grouping etc.). One thing that also might be picked up soon is a little 2nd-life clone that runs on my softbank (vodaphone) mobile. So while riding the train I can run around in a 3d environment on my cellie and talk to other people connected to there etc. Anyway I am not sure, but I think it is not overly popular here.

Regarding the code scanning, I mean it might be a great new high-density code that microsoft is using but in the end all it needs to do is call up a certain webpage in the cellphone browser (maybe with some local info added or so). However considering that the qr codes have been in popular use in Japan for ages this is so not new.

Big difference (4, Interesting)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430827)

QR code has the data embedded in the tag. This thing seems to be just a pointer to a record in a MS database. So MS gets a copy of all your data, AND you need to be online to read it. Thanks but no thanks.

Re:Big difference (4, Informative)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430999)

Well, there's obviously tradeoffs associated:

A QR code stores the data in the tag itself so (AFAIK) it can have variable size. It's black and white and the shapes are smaller. So the pattern recognition can be harder, might not work well with low resolution cameras, and there are practical limits on how much information you can encode into the tag.

Microsoft tag's strength is pattern recognition. It looks to me like the tag has been designed with low-res cameras, variable distances and light conditions in mind. Scanning has been working for me from all kinds of distances and screen angles, and it's been super-quick.

To achieve this it looks like MS had to make the tag data a fixed length and use the data essentially as an index number. Sure, you gotta go through their service, but well, they're providing a service (duh).. They've announced that the tag scanning app, and the act of scanning a tag will always be free services. Creating a tag is free right now while the service is in beta, but I'm sure they'll start charging a fee at some point. If/when that happens, an entity interested in creating a tag simply needs to weigh the cost/benefit and decide if it's worth it.

About MS having your data -- well, for example if you're in an airport and you see a tag that says "scan here for arrival/departure info" -- you scan it, it takes you to a page with flight info. How's that different from say, doing a search query and reaching the same website? Ultimately, the person/entity creating the tag will link the data (URL, vCard, whatever) to it. If they're not comfortable with this data residing on an MS server, why would they create the tag in the first place? You, as the consumer, the person scanning the tag, aren't uploading your data on MS's server.

Re:Big difference (1)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431475)

What's stopping me to encode an url as a QR Code?

Re:Big difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431535)

QR code is almost always an encoded URL which is opened by the browser.

Re:QR code? (3, Informative)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430981)

QR codes are widely used in Japan they are literally on everything -

Why I think they are so popular is that japanese (kanji/hiragana/katakana ) is hard to type on a mobile phone.

With QR codes you just take a picture and your phone goes to the website.

Microsoft Tags don't sound that different except you have to use Microsoft to access the info.

Re:QR code? (1)

ElNotto (517377) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431101)

Yes, I've seen developers for windows mobile applications publishing QR codes with releases of their applications. Supposedly you can use your PC to view the release announcement and take a picture of the code displayed on your PC monitor with your smartphone using a program to read the QR code and it will take you to the download for the program without having to mess with internet browsing on a 2.5" screen. I haven't tried it yet but I've receently installed a QR reader and intend to keep a lookout for them.

Re:QR code? (1)

roger_pasky (1429241) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431363)

It's just the same as QR Code, but a little bit smaller (they claim it at their own description [microsoft.com] .

It is no new staff as it was announced two years ago [engadget.com] . The current hype [engadget.com] is the movement towards mobile scanning via embedded camera and, therefore, going mainstream.

The main disadventage is the optical range on light reflecting surfaces. Surrounding light colour (even colour temperature) could affect the accuracy. If you have ever yield upon a barcode scanner because of the reading failures, just prepare to get angry far much often.

Hey everybody lets to it microsofts way (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430425)

Isn't semacode [semacode.com] good enough to enter a URL into a mobile phone?

Re:Hey everybody lets to it microsofts way (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430555)

It only seemed to do facebook so, uhm, no :D

But there may be others which are better, QR code like someone else suggested [slashdot.org] is actually mentioned in TFA but it stored the information in the code, so it doesn't link you to the information and therefor it doesn't do the same thing as Microsofts one do, although it could obviously store an URL to, it's not just limited to that purpose like Microsofts is.

I assume there may be others which is more centered around URLs.

Not a new idea in any case, and the color one looks like shit, even though they can store more bits.

Re:Hey everybody lets to it microsofts way (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430729)

Yeah I think QR code is what I was looking for.

Re:Hey everybody lets to it microsofts way (5, Insightful)

tonytnnt (1335443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430893)

Not a new idea in any case, and the color one looks like shit, even though they can store more bits.

Now that I think about it, wouldn't QR Code have a HUGE advantage in some print advertising because it's black and white vs. color? I mean, I know that Tag appears to fit into a 4 color process, but it just seems like a 1 color process would be more advantageous... or am I completely off base here?

Re:Hey everybody lets to it microsofts way (1)

tonytnnt (1335443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431003)

Update: Microsoft already tried a QR Code based system: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Live_Barcode [wikipedia.org]

Re:Hey everybody lets to it microsofts way (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431019)

The funny thing is that neither of them are worth my or anyone else time if they aren't THE ONE METHOD to use.

What good is 10 different 2D codes? It's not like people will get lots of readers or be happy trying to photo things just to notice nothing happens all the fucking time.

Re:Hey everybody lets to it microsofts way (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431089)

The funny thing is that neither of them are worth my or anyone else time if they aren't THE ONE METHOD to use.

A lot of bar code readers can recognise and interpret multiple codes. Mow MS will probably try to limit this, but a well recognised barcode is probably quite useful even if it is not the one and only

Re:Hey everybody lets to it microsofts way (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431325)

Monochrome works [istartedsomething.com] , but pure greyscale seems to cause issues.

Applications (4, Insightful)

James_Duncan8181 (588316) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430435)

Hmmm...adverts/spam would be the main application I'd imagine. Also a way to get someone to a URL that they cannot check before hand as the symbol is only machine readable. This looks like a great way to get people to exploit pages.

Tempting!

Re:Applications (2, Insightful)

jeffs72 (711141) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430453)

Heh, won't be long before there are shirts with Microsoft Tag for lemonparty.org and 2girls1cup.com Goatsex anyone? Ew.

Re:Applications (0, Troll)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430569)

Yeah, I agree, Microsoft tags on t-shirts ? EWW.
2 girls 1 cup = YEAH!

Re:Applications (1)

jeffs72 (711141) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430601)

I dunno, the MS tags at least have color, don't look as weird as the nokia ones.

Re:Applications (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430677)

Quick, patent a laser pointer that projects the barcode of goatse.cx

Finns did it already (3, Informative)

galaxy (212802) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430457)

As so many digital-age inventions, this has been done in Finland ages ago. :) There's even a company whose business is built around it: http://www.upc.fi/en/upcode/ [www.upc.fi]

Not the next PARC...yet (1, Funny)

Zubinix (572981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430469)

What original ideas do Microsoft Research come up with? My Nokia E71 has a 2D barcode reader so this is merely an incremental improvement on a well known idea. What next, graphic user interfaces?

We've been here before (4, Informative)

biscuitlover (1306893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430485)

QR codes [wikipedia.org] have been doing exactly the same thing for a while now.

And to be honest, I really can't see either catching on... The general public are constantly getting more familiar with the web, and getting more comfortable with finding their own favourite 'trusted' sources of information. Even if Microsoft does somehow convince enough manufacturers to start adding codes to their packaging, are people really going to jump at the chance to instantly look up a load of information on that particular television/cosmetic/breakfast cereal on some arbitrary MS website? Because that's all this really amounts to... a link. More info here [techcrunch.com] .

Re:We've been here before (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26430705)

Many magazines and newspapers in Japan are festooned with such codes on adverts, or articles, etc. So it can certainly catch on. Japanese phones are pretty good at it, even for very small ones, but for other manufacturers the problem tends to be poor implementation in the phone side making it quicker to type in the damn URL, or requiring a too large an area devoted to the code.

QR codes are ubiquitous in Japan (1)

achurch (201270) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430915)

And to be honest, I really can't see either catching on...

I don't know about "catching on" in the sense of people actually using them (I don't), but they're incredibly common in Japan, and have been for the last few years. Advertisements have them, magazines have them, McDonald's hamburger wrappers have them [calorielab.com] ... Granted, it could all be a mass delusion of marketroids, but I doubt so many companies would go to the effort of putting the codes on--and continuing to put them on year after year--unless there was feedback saying it was effective.

Re:QR codes are ubiquitous in Japan (1)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431491)

And to be honest, I really can't see either catching on...

Granted, it could all be a mass delusion of marketroids, but I doubt so many companies would go to the effort of putting the codes on--and continuing to put them on year after year--unless there was feedback saying it was effective.

This could also just be the tail still wagging the dog. The barcode providers are trying desperately to capitalize on these things, and might be continually pushing them on various producers with words like "there's been a big uptick on direct-to-consumer barcodes in Finland, you don't want to miss this opportunity!" There could also be some co-branding going on -- we'll market you as an trend-setting adopter if you print these for free. That could be especially attractive when the codes cost nothing to attach to their packaging or marketing literature.

Server management (2, Interesting)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430491)

We have asset tags on our servers. To this day I think it'd be very handy to have encoded 'asset important information' on a 'tag' style thing.

I mean, imagine - blip that server in the corner there, and in my hand I now have everything I need to know about it - configuration, downtime constraints, owners, where it's plugged into, etc.

Also, supermarkets - being able to do 'extended show info' on a product, based on personal preferences. Allergy information is the most useful one, but even things like recipe suggestions (look, yummy strawberries - have you considered how they might go with cream, or dipped in chocolate?) or ... well, just simple things like collating 'standard information' about stuff in your shopping, like storage life and nutritional value and pricing.

Re:Server management (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430543)

Can't you do that with a regular bar code and an extensive database? I mean as for your server thing you might as well just have the name printed on it, and you can have written on a sheet of paper what it does. No wait scratch that, it's better to take your cell phone out, open the barcode program, make sure it has the correct lighting and focus to read the barcode and wait till it recognizes what is sees.

Re:Server management (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431403)

Can't you do that with a regular bar code and an extensive database?

Yes, certainly. At least, provided you've a way to read the normal barcode. Which is kinda the point - Windows Mobile devices aren't quite ubiquitous, but they're a lot more prevalent than barcode reading PDAs.

I mean as for your server thing you might as well just have the name printed on it, and you can have written on a sheet of paper what it does.

If you're talking just a few servers, certainly this'll work. I think you're perhaps underestimating just how many 'assets' you get in a large datacentre though. When you start talking about 40,000 pieces of paper with server name, IP address, 'owner' contact information, cabling details, power supply/breaker connectivity, maintenance contract details, service level/outage windows, and all the other things that are useful to have at the finger tips, you start talking about building your own nightmare of maintenance.

Re:Server management (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430691)

Would be sweet with wikipedia connection at various locations, museums, .. to. Though one can always search for it oneself to, if one think about it.

Re:Server management (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431543)

Hmm, that's an interesting one. Something as simple as 'this object is in Wikipedia, point phone here to find out about it' has potential. 'specially if e.g. a museum has an extensive database that it's delivering over wi-fi or something, so you can 'make notes' of that thing that really interested you.

Re:Server management (1)

wertarbyte (811674) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431571)

I'd be more interested in having wikipedia entrys tagged with coordinates. Imagine looking at your PDA displaying all interesting wikipedia entries about items in your immediate surroundings.

Possible applications? (1)

AlterRNow (1215236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430507)

Worryingly..

1) Player launches game
2) Computer "Please take a picture of this 'barcode' to start game"
3) Player does so and gets billed for this instance of playing the game
4) ???
5) PROFIT!!

Re:Possible applications? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430703)

Yeah, that seems really secure, because it's so hard to copy images on paper!

Re:Possible applications? (1)

AlterRNow (1215236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430937)

Could you elaborate? I don't understand why you brought up the "security" of that scenario

Re:Possible applications? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431005)

Because if they are all the same they would be easy to copy? And if they are different it would still be quite easy to take someone else just like with a key or whatever, so not much of an added security measurement.

Re:Possible applications? (1)

AlterRNow (1215236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431059)

Ah, my point was more for the pay-per-play aspect where the game would present you with a barcode which you would take a picture of, be billed ( to your phone bill perhaps ) and then the game is told it can play via internet or perhaps another connection to the phone ( bluetooth etc. ).

I'm not saying it would be secure, or that it will even happen.. but it is possible and is therefore worrying! I'm sure it would be cracked within a very short amount of time though :)

Hope that makes more sense

Re:Possible applications? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431311)

Yeah, sounds like something which would work, though a link to your bank and paying from there or just typing in your Visa CC # sounds like decent alternatives.

And in the end the user choose if they want to buy a game on those terms or not, I wouldn't.

It has potential... (1)

babycakes (564259) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430523)

I can see it having applications particularly in things like magazine adverts etc, where a QR/2D barcode wouldn't fit in aesthetically, but something with jazzy colours etc would do. It does open up the potential problem of bad registration during printing, where the colours may not necessarily line up; not a problem with a black-on-white barcode really. Having tried it, the read speed is quicker than on my Nokia N95 barcode reader, but I guess having said that, there is already an existing standard which works fine with "proper" barcode scanners and not mobile phone ones - why deviate from this, in order to accomplish the same, but with the removal from the barcode of the information required (and place it on a server somewhere else)?

japan - already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26430537)

black and white, squared boxes. you find them on everything including the paper wrapping your quarterpounder.

Not a chance... (1)

Kindaian (577374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430561)

Walmart can't convince suppliers to use RFID without resorting to blackmail and MS is trying for world use of a new label just for fun?

Good luck...

payload-in-code versus payload-on-server (3, Insightful)

Tikaro (726048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430617)

The thing I like about payload-in-code formats, like QRCode, is that the information is actually out there in the world with you, albeit in a machine-readable format. The URL actually, you know, is sharing your space.

With a payload-on-server code, the thing in the code isn't meaningful, even in to a machine, unless the WHOLE chain is working -- internet connection, server, the whole nine yards.

QRcode just seems, I dunno, more "honest."

Microsoft reinvents again (5, Funny)

solune (803114) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430689)

I've always wanted to turn my phone into a cue-cat!(R)

Huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26430709)

I thought Microsoft Tag was what Ballmer called chair-throwing...

Am I really going to be the first to say this? (0, Flamebait)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430723)

What a damn stupid idea.

Another wonderful "invention" from Microsoft (1)

Virus1984 (624552) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430733)

So... the brighty "researchers" at Microsoft finally heard of QR Code, maybe suggested that a decoder be implemented in a next release of Windows Mobile, and had to reinvent the wheel so it would be "new stuff" ? That said, it *is* different from QR Code, a QR Code can story any arbitrary data, this variant seem to resolve around URLs to web services that do an awful lot of stuff without the user's explicit consent (other than scanning the code). Damn. Having seen the horrors of ActiveX "automations", it sure don't want this in cellphones! Maybe I sound like an party-pooper, but wouldn't color complicate the whole stuff? I mean, a QR code or a standard barcode can be printed in a black-and-white newspaper page (which are not *that* uncommon), this Microsoft Tag could not.

64-bit proprietary hashing? (5, Interesting)

infofarmer (835780) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430735)

Is it just me, or do MS tags look like 50 positions of 4 colors, i.e. 100 bits, which, minus error correction, probably boils down to 64-80. It's obvious you need a server-based resolver to convert these few bytes into an URL. Now guess who manages the server and how much do they want to charge for each entry.

Re:64-bit proprietary hashing? (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431369)

The obvious solution is that some of the bits should resolve to a "code resolution service provider", so that there could be several databases providing codes. Instead Microsoft will be able to charge $100 or so for a person to enter a code into the database for their advertising campaign.

I think it's easier just to put a web address, I'm really not going to take photos of adverts to see a website, and the same goes for news articles and other signage and information. Maybe if it was seamless on the mobile device, without even needing to run this application... so really this isn't going to affect my life, so why should I care!

Using the CMYK colours is sensible, as long as the colours are aligned well when printed which should be the case. The reason the code is smaller is because there is no data payload apart from the ID, so they achieve different purposes.

Re:64-bit proprietary hashing? (2, Informative)

psychofox (92356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431539)

Yup, seems like a garbage idea to me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code [wikipedia.org]

Can hold a a couple of kilobytes and have been around for over a decade and are in use everywhere in Japan.

You can go to a website and create one which contains anything you like, i.e your business card details, in a standard format, a url, telephone number, etc.

Reinventing the wheel is profitable (3, Insightful)

xiando (770382) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430759)

CueCat, QT, it's just a fancy barcode. Except that Microsoft can charge everyone who uses or implements their version of the barcode. Reinventing the wheel IS profitable. This is ODF vs OOXML all over again except that this time there is no open format available as an alternative. Hackers should get right on making an open fancy-barcode standard, and where oh where is RMS on this issue?

Free 2D barcodes (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430963)

This is ODF vs OOXML all over again except that this time there is no open format available as an alternative.

There are plenty of Free two-dimensional barcodes. Data Matrix is old enough that its patent has expired, and QR Code, MaxiCode, and Aztec Code are permissively licensed. But the advantage of Microsoft's code, which uses color to improve density and looks up data on a server, is that it can be decoded more reliably even from a cheap cell phone camera.

Re:Free 2D barcodes (1)

silanea (1241518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431395)

[...] But the advantage of Microsoft's code, which uses color to improve density and looks up data on a server, is that it can be decoded more reliably even from a cheap cell phone camera.

Using colour is not necessarily a good idea. Differentiating black forms from white background is simple and reliable enough; but colour recognition is unreliable. There are quite a few variables that cannot be readily controlled or balanced, eg. lighting, the camera's colour settings, bad contrast.

And looking up data on a server isn't an advantage in your context, either: Either a code can be decoded reliably and easily on a low-spec phone or it can't. Whether the decoded data is actual content or only a reference to data on a foreign location does not make a difference.

Re:Reinventing the wheel is profitable (1)

addie macgruer (705252) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430989)

The open format would be `plain text', which you enter into the address bar of your browser or commit to memory for later. The sheer inconvenience of having to use a cuecat, rather than type eg. pepsi.com, was one of the highlighted factors in its failure, as I recall.

Problem with these tags (1)

CBravo (35450) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430859)

is that they are so g****** ugly to look at. Especially on a large sign.

So it's a... (1)

peculium.infirmus (1261356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430897)

very colorful matrix id ? If you have worked in any kind of manufacturing enviroment, these have been around for a while now. Seems Microsoft have just made it look more trendy ?

It's just another way to send you to to msn.com (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430939)

Barf.

Where's the beef... I mean patent? Oh, look... (2, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26430965)

OK, where's the submarine patent?

Oh, they're playing silly games even before we get that far...

Let's see... the second link has a nice deceptive picture of the two technologies not to scale, but printed against each other so it looks like the color coded one is smaller. Then there's an actual scale comparison, but the Microsoft one is only an encoded link, so it contains less data than the tags it's compared with. There's no reason you can't swipe your iPhone over a UPC and look it up online (I've done that with my cue-cat).

And of course "A nice side-effect of this is also the ability for publishers to gather reporting data on how many times it was seen." Nice. Right. Plus, Microsoft gets that data as well. And of course it's got all the downsides of any cloud technology... if the server's down or you're not online you're stuck.

Re:Where's the beef... I mean patent? Oh, look... (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431401)

Have you ever found a phone application which can read UPC barcodes?

Re:Where's the beef... I mean patent? Oh, look... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431589)

Have you ever found a phone application which can read UPC barcodes?

I haven't looked, I don't have a smartphone. People do this routinely in Japan with 2d barcodes on cellphones. In the US there's plenty of apps that read all kinds of barcodes for phones, including a couple that use standard 2d barcodes to do the same thing Microsoft's doing here, and Google has one that doesn't require a round trip to a central server (Google doing LESS data mining than Microsoft?). There's certainly no technical issue reading UPC codes with a camera, Delicious Library does it.

I suspect that people getting into the UPC space are gunshy of the CueCat effect.

Get the Zombie crew together (1)

PinchDuck (199974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431029)

We have to find Hollerith's grave and shove a stake through his heart.

Its Barcode Battler but without the fun. (1)

mrraz (1451589) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431123)

Remember http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcode_Battler [wikipedia.org] Doubt the microsoft thing will be as good. I would prefer a good hit score over a load of rubbish reviews and promotions anyway.

The market needs a solid industrial standard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431169)

I for one thinks that it is great that Microsoft have found an interest in the meta-tag area of business. Don't get me wrong I'm not a particular Mirosoft fan, but there is one thing that they do really well, assimilate technology and push it onto the market. Not always in the best possible way. With all the different types of tags I have to have three or four different J2ME applications installed in my phone in order to utilize them all, not good.
However, I'm not conviced that the colorcoding is the way to go, I mean the printed media is still mostly monochrome. In the near future we'll probably see more active e-paper, color is a problem there.

Already here in Japan, and been for some time (1)

gnieboer (1272482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431179)

This is common practice in Japan. Use the mega-pixel camera on a 2-D square barcode, and away you go!
The interesting thing is that you don't actually have to be close to use it.
While it's used for coupons, etc, (McDonald's wrappers all have these barcodes on it), I've also seen it on retail store outdoor signs, large enough to be scanned from the street as you stop at a stoplight. I haven't personally scanned one to see what happens, but I was surprised to see it.
Also, people exchange contact details via barcode. I.E. print your barcode data on your conference nametag.

Essentially it's a hyperlink you can 'click on' in the real world with your phone... 'scan me for more information', and the phone gets the code and then gets additional data from the internet. So yes, it certainly has plenty of application, though Microsoft certainly can't take the credit...

FrisT 4sot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431207)

I'm almost impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431227)

I just tried it on my HTC Diamond which doesn't exactly have the worlds best camera using it on their test site on my 12" 1280*800 notebook screen and it was super responsive. It accepted blurry, angled pictures where you couldn't really make out the triangles.

Too bad it starts the shitty mobile IE browser though. In fact I just changed my mind, this thing is horrible, anything that increases mobile IE usage on the web must be evil and destroyed.

Tin foil hat for your phone? (1)

OutOfMyTree (810249) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431289)

Yet another way for Microsoft to track what you are doing -- because of course the queries go to their database on their servers with their monitoring.

Reportedly this was one of the reasons for the CueCat's failure, although there were ways you could supposedly anonymize them. Anonymize your phone?

I think QR codes do not funnel through a single provider, although I guess one provider may dominate in certain segments of the market.

Tested it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26431297)

I just tested it against the samples.

The microsoft tag, the phone read at 4' away from the screen, requiring only 1/8th of the screen area. The nokia barcode reader required the neighbouring codes to be at almost the full width of the screen (and that, the first one, the QR code I had to hold the phone upside down for it to get)

So maybe microsoft is onto something. However I do see a larger downside, if I wanted to stick one of these in images so people know the site where the image came from. If it gets printed out in black and white, it won't work. Maybe if microsoft offers a sticker printer for it. :p

Re:Tested it (1)

Kegetys (659066) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431371)

> The nokia barcode reader required the neighbouring codes to be at almost the full width of the screen

Instead of the Nokia reader, try Kaywa reader: http://reader.kaywa.com/ [kaywa.com] For what I have tested it is very fast(pretty much instant) and works from rather big angles as well.

The fact that the microsoft tag is in color does seem to limit its use to color print only. Also I wonder how well it works if the colors are not perfectly aligned as is often possible for example in newspaper print.

Re:Tested it (1)

achurch (201270) | more than 5 years ago | (#26431453)

The fact that the microsoft tag is in color does seem to limit its use to color print only. Also I wonder how well it works if the colors are not perfectly aligned as is often possible for example in newspaper print.

That could be why they chose triangles: so no matter which way the colors are misaligned, they have a good chance of figuring out what the original code is. With squares, for example, if the misalignment is exactly along one axis you could end up with twice as many half-width rectangles. Newspapers and the like are probably also why they chose cyan, magenta, and yellow (the primary colors of printing).

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