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Researchers Debut Barcode Replacement

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the i'm-still-not-used-to-the-square-ones dept.

Input Devices 185

eldavojohn writes "MIT Researchers have unveiled a new potential replacement for barcodes. Using an LED covered with a tiny mask and a lens, these new bokodes can be processed by a standard mobile phone camera and can encode thousands of times more information than your average barcode. New applications are being dreamed up by the team. Dr. Mohan of MIT said, 'Let's say you're standing in a library with 20 shelves in front of you and thousands of books. You could take a picture and you'd immediately know where the book you're looking for is.'"

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Not for Archival Purposes! (1, Redundant)

DadLeopard (1290796) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838095)

I doubt libraries will go for something with a limited shelf life due to dead batteries! Might work for a box of cereal, but not for War and Peace!!

Re:Not for Archival Purposes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28838275)

They claim they might be able to make it work with a flash and a retro reflector, but I still don't see this taking off.

Re:Not for Archival Purposes! (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838299)

I think libraries, cereal boxes and cell-phone-readers alike are going to be more interested in QR codes [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Not for Archival Purposes! (2, Insightful)

StreetStealth (980200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838369)

At the end of the BBC article, they mention that there are already prototypes based on reflectivity. Presumably, this would make the tags easily readable with an on-camera flash, possibly an infrared one.

This part could make the tags a viable, low-cost alternative to RFID -- as long as your application involves line-of-sight, a 5-cent bokode looks pretty appealing next to a two dollar RFID tag.

Re:Not for Archival Purposes! (0, Redundant)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838589)

but still stupidly expensive next to the near nothingness of a standard barcode.

its lunacy

Re:Not for Archival Purposes! (3, Interesting)

Danse (1026) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839503)

but still stupidly expensive next to the near nothingness of a standard barcode.

its lunacy

That depends entirely on the application though. For uses that would require vastly larger amounts of data than a barcode or even QR code can convey, the bokode could be well worth the cost. It just depends on the return you're going to get from it. I think the case for putting them on cereal boxes is probably not a good one, but the example of using them on storefronts and buildings to allow information to be conveyed to services like Google would be a fantastic use for them.

Re:Not for Archival Purposes! (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839621)

For vastly larger amounts of data, you'd have a database and use the barcode to reference that data.

You don't need megabytes of optically encoded data on a cereal box, nor a book for that matter.

Re:Not for Archival Purposes! (2, Insightful)

SkipFrehly (1606577) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838795)

At the end of the BBC article, they mention that there are already prototypes based on reflectivity.

Isn't that how bar codes work already?

Re:Not for Archival Purposes! (1)

topham (32406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838865)

And the new ones require something like a flash so they are bright enough for the camera.

Lasers draw very little power compared to a flash. As a barcode these things bite. But they may find a niche.

Re:Not for Archival Purposes! (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839281)

I imagine that with a flash, you can get a large number of codes only when necessary, while the laser allows you to get 1 code and waste energy for the duration of time it isn't getting a picture taken of it.

CueCat (2, Insightful)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838097)

Sounds about as useful as a CueCat.

Nobody is in a library with 20 shelves in front of them. Computers do it better.

Re:CueCat (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838833)

Until something is shelved wrong. Or stolen.

Re:CueCat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28839859)

How long before the first bokode virus?

but it's powered (4, Insightful)

yincrash (854885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838099)

the cost per bokcode is like 20x-200x that of printing a barcode.

Re:but it's powered (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838155)

For now...though unless they come up with a way to power them (solar cell?) it won't come down enough...

Re:but it's powered (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838337)

Solar cells, reflectors, etc. all still cost significantly more than a piece of paper and a fraction of a penny's worth of ink.

Re:but it's powered (0)

Tordre (1447083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838573)

so all we need to do is increase the cost of paper, lets get burning those trees and printing more books.

Yeah, they need remote-power (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838703)

Something like the equivalent of RFID power. I know, shine a flashlight on it!

Besides, do we REALLY need all that information on a library book spine? A bar code big enough so an entire shelf or large section of a shelf can be seen on a cell phone camera yet dense enough to contain the library's per-item unique identifier is all you need. Bonus if your camera is wide-angle and can capture an entire wall of shelves and still resolve the bar-codes.

I'm not saying this technology isn't useful, only that its drawbacks, most notably power and non-flatness, limit the applications where it beats out bar-codes.

Re:but it's powered (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838827)

The team developing these believe that they can eventually be made cheaply, utilising only a reflector instead of a complicated LED + battery setup.

Re:but it's powered (1)

duranaki (776224) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839001)

Sure.. but they are only getting the attention for their LED based version... I doubt the reflector version would actually meet the same criteria that makes this interesting to people (like being able to capture them with a cell phone, capture at long range, capture from a wide variety of angles). But I don't know because they are only showing off the LED one, so let people bitch about the LED one. We'll bitch about the reflective one when they tell us something about it.

Re:but it's powered (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839105)

Bitch away, no objections here!

Re:but it's powered (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839727)

the cost per bokcode is like 20x-200x that of printing a barcode.

Currently, the tags are expensive to produce - around $5 (£3) each. This is, in part, because the early prototypes require a lens and a powered LED.
However, the researchers believe the technology could be refined so that tags were reflective and require no power.

"We already have prototypes which are completely passive," said Dr Mohan.
In this form, they could cost around 5 cents each, he added.

LED THC? (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838115)

The concept drawings of the kids in classroom and crowd gaming looks like all the kids are tokin' it up... Sounds like a great new technology whether it's a barcode replacement or something much more.

Maybe the most important question not in the summa (5, Informative)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838125)

"Currently, the tags are expensive to produce - around $5 (£3) each. This is, in part, because the early prototypes require a lens and a powered LED. However, the researchers believe the technology could be refined so that tags were reflective and require no power. "We already have prototypes which are completely passive," said Dr Mohan. In this form, they could cost around 5 cents each, he added. "

If thats true, maybe they do have potential.

Re:Maybe the most important question not in the su (4, Insightful)

aicrules (819392) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838205)

Potential, but even at 5 cents each, they won't replace the bar code, nor should it really. It may replace the bar code for specific applications, but you're not going to convince frito lay that they need to plop one of these suckers on the millions bags of chips they crank out each day.

Re:Maybe the most important question not in the su (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838303)

I think they mean this as more a QRcode type replacement, where people use them for scanning stuff on business cards or billboards, etc., not UPCs on packaging.

Re:Maybe the most important question not in the su (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28838715)

Honestly, I'm more excited for the day that these are used as described in the article. Product space wasted on nutritional charts will become outdated as more information is given using the code. Helpfully, this will allow consumers greater awareness when shopping by giving them access to more detailed and in-depth information. There is, of course, one worrying problem; presenting the data in a useful way. It would become useless if we just have more 3000 word EULA styled information to read, and that is exactly what companies are interested in as consumer awareness is often bad for them.

Re:Maybe the most important question not in the su (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28840089)

Notice that the summary suggested "Let's say you're standing in a library with 20 shelves in front of you and thousands of books. You could take a picture and you'd immediately know where the book you're looking for is." It didn't say "You could take a picture and you'd immediately know where you left your Fritos."

More throw away packing (5, Insightful)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838129)

Oh yay. Lets fill our landfills with more useless crap. Why the hell do I need LED's and battery is PACKAGING? They go into the trash! We as a society are trying to move towards LESS PACKAGING and recyclable packaging not MORE packaging. Is the consumer expected to rip out that LED and battery and recycle that separate for ever single ceral box they purchase?

Re:More throw away packing (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838297)

Mod parent up. What the hell are they thinking??

This will likely have a negative effect on sales when people boycott any product with one in it.

Re:More throw away packing (0, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838389)

We as a society are trying to move towards LESS PACKAGING

If so, I sure haven't noticed. What used to come in a plain paper box now comes in a plastic package that's a pain to open. LPs use to have cardboard covers wrapped in cellophane, now CDs come in fragile plastic jewel boxes wrapped in cellophane.

Can you give some examples of products that have less packaging? Because I sure can't think of any.

Re:More throw away packing (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838753)

LPs --> CDs --> download from bittorrent. Some minimal packaging perhaps, in the form of .nfo files or other rubbish, but /dev/null never gets full! But I do agree with your point.

Re:More throw away packing (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839953)

Downloads are the best form of "packaging". It would be nice if tangible things like food, cars, and refrigerators could be downloaded.

Re:More throw away packing (1)

proslack (797189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838877)

As far as a specific example - in the 1990's CDs came packaged in cardboard boxes that were two or three times as long as the jewel-case. Now, there is only a jewel box. Packaging in Europe is minimal compared to packaging in the US. Stores are also required (in Germany, at least) to dispose of your packaging if you don't want to take it home. People take advantage of this because the once-a-week curbside garbage cans are about a third of the size of the twice-a-week American bins. Hopefully we will move in that direction in the upcoming decade. Deposit-beverage containers would be a great start.

Re:More throw away packing (2, Informative)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838607)

Did you catch the part about the passive tags that don't needs LEDs or batteries?

Re:More throw away packing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28839877)

I caught it. They think it might work, but it would require the camera to use a flash. Most cell phone cameras don't have a flash, so it doesn't seem like a good idea. Nor do I want these annoying LEDs or annoying flashes. Cute gimmick, bad idea.

Re:More throw away packing (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839173)

Did you consider the environmental impact of better inventory control? Probably not, because it is one of those things that you see in your world normally. The better we can handle inventory, we are allowed to have smaller warehouses, more optimal shipping methods, better use so it can be sold before it expires or become obsolete then tossed anyways. Environmentalism is weighing the cost and benefits. Not going crazy and saying no to progress.

Re:More throw away packing (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839371)

Did you consider the environmental impact of better inventory control?

Yep. And what happens when a box of Cheerios goes bad? The Cheerios break down and the paper box break down. Darn. But what about all those chips and LED's and the readers that you use to read them? A couple billion Cheerio's boxes could have come and gone before those will break down.

Re:More throw away packing (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28840059)

And that plastic bag in the box? That won't break down quickly. And the box may be put in a landfill packed to tight that it will not biodegrade. Sure Chips have an impact. However if they are 1% the size of the box. and the improved efficiency saves 2 out of hundred boxes, then you are better off. Heck those chips my be recyclable too.

Re:More throw away packing (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839751)

Environmentalism is weighing the cost and benefits. Not going crazy and saying no to progress.

Since when?

Re:More throw away packing (2, Informative)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839431)

Oh yay. Lets fill our landfills with more useless crap. Why the hell do I need LED's and battery is PACKAGING? They go into the trash! We as a society are trying to move towards LESS PACKAGING and recyclable packaging not MORE packaging. Is the consumer expected to rip out that LED and battery and recycle that separate for ever single ceral box they purchase?

You'll sound more informed if you actually read the article.

"We already have prototypes which are completely passive," said Dr Mohan.

Re:More throw away packing (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839771)

Oh yay. Lets fill our landfills with more useless crap. Why the hell do I need LED's and battery is PACKAGING? They go into the trash! We as a society are trying to move towards LESS PACKAGING and recyclable packaging not MORE packaging. Is the consumer expected to rip out that LED and battery and recycle that separate for ever single ceral box they purchase?

Calm down, this will make it more easy for the trash robots to find and sort future garbage thrown out of passing flying cars.

Hmmm... (0)

moosehooey (953907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838147)

Let's see. This is a powered device, with an LED, a special mask, and a lens, and presumably a battery that will go dead. Sure, it'll replace a barcode that's printed along with the rest of the packaging for no cost other than slightly reducing the area available on the package for advertising.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838431)

I suggest you RTFA before commenting on it:

"We already have prototypes which are completely passive," said Dr Mohan. In this form, they could cost around 5 cents each, he added.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Thantik (1207112) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838993)

Woah woah woah. Since when did we start RTFA on slashdot? Is there a committee meeting I missed or something?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839219)

5 cents is still too much for something that replaces a barcode (which means it goes on everything).

Looking for books??? (3, Insightful)

Important Remark (1604945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838151)

Looking for books on shelves in libraries as a practical use for the latest technology?

Price? (5, Insightful)

Hythlodaeus (411441) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838163)

If printing the code isn't effectively free, and a device to read it is more than $5, its not a replacement for bar codes.

Re:Price? (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838721)

Hi there. Could you direct me towards where I can buy a barcode scanner for $4.99? Cheers.

Re:Price? (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838823)

No, but here's a place you can buy one for less than $9.95... http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=p3907.m38.l1313&_nkw=cuecat&_sacat=See-All-Categories [ebay.com]

Re:Price? (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838935)

That's more than $5, so I guess that shows that bar codes aren't a replacement for bar codes. :)

Re:Price? (1)

British (51765) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839009)

Well, son we used to have these things called CueCats....

Re:Price? (2, Insightful)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838897)

I don't think the only issue is price. It's also one more item that needs lead time to manufacturing. One of the advantages of a bar-code is that the company who prints my boxes can print the bar code as part of their process. If I have to get a separate led mask generated for each of my products, that's going to require a whole different printing process, possibly requiring another vendor. And I'm guessing will involve an expensive setup process with lead time involved. These may not be at all economically viable for small-quantity products.

Looks more like compressing existing barcodes (3, Informative)

stickrnan (1290752) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838221)

Don't get me wrong. The technology is interesting, albeit limited to battery life. But the images in the article look a lot like a series of datamatrix barcodes. These are already widely used in many industries.

As a barcode replacement it sucks (4, Insightful)

topham (32406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838245)

As a barcode replacement it sucks. However, the motion capture aspects looked pretty good. Using infrared would improve it as well since the camera can pick it up, but your eye would never notice it.

Re:As a barcode replacement it sucks (1)

Kurusuki (1049294) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838409)

Now I want to get six of these and experiment with scanning real world objects into 3d objects fully skinned and ready to go. Just seems like this sort of technique could be used for a lot of 3d modeling purposes.

Re:As a barcode replacement it sucks (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839005)

Exactly. The video they showed kicks the crap out of Augmented Reality. The bokode is transmitting code that is only visible at a certain angle with much higher precision. IE- if you can see this code at pos(x,y) that means you are looking at this from these angles. Same principle applies to motion capture.

Those funny green suits would capture things a lot better with this bokode device I bet.

I'll read the paper later but I agree that, unless it adds some justified value that the existing barcode system doesn't have, it's going to be hard pressed.

Right there it is! (1, Funny)

Daravon (848487) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838305)

You could take a picture and you'd immediately know where the book you're looking for is.

...Somewhere on the shelf.

Re:Right there it is! (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839287)

I thought Mr. Dewey sorted that bit out long ago.

Brilliant! (1, Insightful)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838317)

'Let's say you're standing in a library with 20 shelves in front of you and thousands of books. You could take a picture and you'd immediately know where the book you're looking for is.'

Gosh, that problem has never been approached before! That's a fabulous idea!

Not sure the library is the best example for usage (3, Insightful)

backbyter (896397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838325)

I would think RFID would be much better for the given example of a library. To expect the book spines to be completely visible would be a stretch.

Re:Not sure the library is the best example for us (1)

JacksBrokenCode (921041) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838689)

Could a device the size of a cel-phone effectively triangulate the location of an RFID tag? The proposed device wouldn't work well in a library, but I don't see RFID as very useful either. If you have to walk your reader past every book you might as well just read the spines.

Re:Not sure the library is the best example for us (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839035)

What if you could modulate the power of your reader? Use a 10-foot setting while you're walking past the cases, a 2 foot setting to find the right shelf, and a 6 inch setting ot find the right area on the shelf?

Re:Not sure the library is the best example for us (2, Interesting)

jhoger (519683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839917)

RFID is very appropriate for this. It's short range... you just need to walk your reader by the stack it will tell you if it's there or not. That is, it's a heuristic that tells you whether you need to bother looking closer, which presumably would save time.

Also, the reader + database could tell you if you are near a book which is in the wrong place, and which book it is. Then you look closer, pull the problem book for re-shelving.

Re:Not sure the library is the best example for us (1)

backbyter (896397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28840051)

I would expect to have the phone interface with the library card system, which in turn (in addition to giving you the standard Dewey filing info) would interface to the libraries shelving RFID readers.

Reflective Tags FTW (1)

FeebleOldMan (1089749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838379)

FTFBBCA: "However, the researchers believe the technology could be refined so that tags were reflective and require no power. "We already have prototypes which are completely passive," said Dr Mohan."

Re:Reflective Tags FTW (1)

Tordre (1447083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838687)

Everything in the future is shinny so these new bar-codes would fit in then.

hell i could even replace my tin foil hat with bar-codes. I go from looking like a crazy person to making a social statement with my attire.

Why not the book itself? (3, Funny)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838403)

If it is able to hold so much information, why not get the whole book and not just the location? Well, with the books I read that should not be a problem. They are about 8 pages, made of chewable non-toxid cardboard.

"Print is dead" - Egon Spengler (0, Troll)

motherpusbucket (1487695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838415)

Why the hell would you want this for searching for library books. Let's get those books in electronic form so they are not on the shelf in the first place!

Re:"Print is dead" - Egon Spengler (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838591)

Because its much more difficult to modify or remotely delete a paper book without the "owners" knowledge or permission?

A solution with no problem. (2, Insightful)

taustin (171655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838417)

New applications are being dreamed up by the team.

If you have to "dream up new applications" for your brilliant new idea, it's not much of an idea. In fact, if the application(s) aren't obvious, and in fact, the inpriation for the idea, it's a stupid idea.

Re:A solution with no problem. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839011)

That reminds me. I got my Google Wave developers invite yesterday.

Solutions inspire solutions (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839117)

Strange how much human progress and achievement comes from contemplation of the irrelevant.
- Scott Kim

Re:A solution with no problem. (2, Informative)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839155)

They said the same thing about lasers when they were first invented.

Re:A solution with no problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28839303)

Yeah, who would ever need a computer in their home? What use could it possibly have?

Huh (1)

GeoSanDiego (703197) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838467)

What is a library?

Re:Huh (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838975)

That's where you go when Wikipedia is down. Is Wikipedia down for anyone else?

Re:Huh (1)

SkipFrehly (1606577) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839071)

What is a library?

It's like the Internet, except instead of porn they have information...and in order to get the porn (read: information) you might have to look in a "complex" catalog which will guide you near the porn (read: information) but not directly at it, as opposed to the internet where the information (read: porn) is instantly at your finger tips, whether you want it or not.

Absurd (0)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838503)

Replace a passive, cheap, adequate technology with something powered, expensive, (no doubt) prone to failure, that adds features people don't know that they (allegedly) need.

BRILLIANT.

Re:Absurd (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838601)

RTFA. They already have a passive prototype.

Beyond that, I agree with your sentiment.

Powered barcode? Did i read that right? (-1, Redundant)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838595)

The BBC article, and the video, indicates that this 'barcode' requires a LED, which requires power.

By requiring power, it eliminates itself from the 'barcode' replacement market, as it introduces a dozen more problems for the one it solves- and that one problem isn't really a problem, because 1d and 2d barcodes hold enough information for their current uses.

Now this neat little trick might be good for other applications, sure. I didn't pay much attention to the other uses in the video. The BBC article lists a lot of fun possible uses too, but the academics positing this don't seem to grasp that REQUIRING POWER is a big cock-block for many of their ideas.

Now Dr. Mohan says they could make passive tags for five cents, which is better, but it's still vastly more expensive than a bit of surface-printed ink.

Name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28838619)

And they will call the app for your phone the Cue-Cat

UPDATE THE SUMMARY!!! (4, Informative)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838675)

Can a modmin please edit the summary to include the passive bokodes that DON'T need batteries? About half of the repliers to this thread DNWtFV*, and missed that bit.

Re:UPDATE THE SUMMARY!!! (1)

SwordsmanLuke (1083699) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839933)

DNWtFV*

Do Not Want to Fone Verizon?
Dance Naked Where the Frogs Vomit?
Did Not Wait to Fully Vest?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Re:UPDATE THE SUMMARY!!! (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#28840121)

Did Not Watch the Fine Video.

Re:UPDATE THE SUMMARY!!! (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28840139)

Did Not Write the Footnote, Vern.

Dear MIT, you are too late. (1)

halligas (782561) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839017)

http://gettag.mobi/ [gettag.mobi] and it doesn't require LED's

Bar codes are better dirty... (3, Interesting)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839069)

A bar code can be somewhat dirty or damaged and still work. I'm thinking that the first time some snotty-nosed little kid walks into the children's section of the library, he'll probably wipe out the ability of dozens of books to be scanned with his mucus-mist.
It seems to me that even a small obstruction, dust, or damage to the led lens would wipe out a lot of the displable data of this led device.

Why the need for a special barcode for cameras? (2, Informative)

KrEdBu (1606591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839149)

Mmmm, my cell phone (android) has been able to read barcodes for quite some time now... why exactly do they feel that you need to have a special barcode for that?

Bad business (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839259)

For example, they could be used to encode nutritional information or pricing offers.

"One to the side may say 'hey, look at me, I'm a dollar cheaper'," said Dr Mohan.

Why exactly would a manufacturer want to put this on their products? Why would a store want to have this on their shelves? No store owner is going to want people in their store, looking at their fancy barcodes, and finding out that something else is cheaper, or worse, the store across the street has the same thing for less.

The solution to where the book is... (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839299)

"Don't you know the Dewey Decimal System?!?!?!?!", Conan The Librarian

RFID (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839491)

Yes, I know they have a prototype unpowered version

So the current powered version has all the disadvantages of being powered coupled with all the disadvantages of traditional barcodes (you need a line-of-sight). Passive RFID tags need no battery and need no line-of-sight to the tag, although their range is limited.

this isn't for barcodes - this is for advertising! (3, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839523)

it's for advertising. If that isn't obvious to somebody who saw the top-most picture in the project page, then they need to think inside the box more.

Nobody's going to use this for barcodes-as-we-know-them.
They *might* replace something like a QR code encoding lots of information (rather than effectively a link to more information), but for almost anything worth describing, it's worth putting it there in plaintext.
( what, I'm going to go to a museum of modern art, and 'admire' a sculpture from 20 yards away just because the bokode can be read from that distance? I think not. )

No, this is gonna be for advertising. Imagine you're taking some casual pictures of some friends in a night out in town. You just snap the shots, come home, and whoa - the entire out-of-focus background is laden with Coca~Cola, McDonald's, Ford and whatnot logos and other texts.

The beauty of it is that they could combine it with existing light-based advertising displays. Every LED in the matrix displays at Times Square could easily have this bokode applied so that even if somebody's taking a picture of a competitor's matrix display making yours out of focus - yours will still stand out.

( I sure -hope- this won't actually be the case, but you know them wiley advertising people. )

next up embedding them in your head (1)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839591)

then they can just point at your head as you walk through the line up and know all there is about you, oh dont worry it wont steal any memories.....

Old Concept, new technique (1)

denobug (753200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839701)

Seriously, there's nothing new here. There's plenty of new bar-code replacement scheme that has surfaced even in the past few years, including one that will fade the barcode after the milk past its expiration date. Same application has been discussed in various bar-code replacements, including (and especially) RFID technology to include more information about the product on the RFID as well. So what is new here? a package including an LED, lense, and a battery pack?

Don't get me wrong, the research itself gives a new idea of diong things. It may be more suitable for other applications. As far as bar-code replacement goes this idea has zero application that is not already thought of. But research wise, I would give the research team credit to their creativity to come up with a different way of doing the same thing.

Let's Say... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839713)

"Let's say you're standing in a library with 20 shelves in front of you and thousands of books. You could take a picture and you'd immediately know where the book you're looking for is."

Dewey Decimal System already does that.
Are books ever where they're supposed to be?

This shit is about as useful as barcode scanners for home use. We already have 2D barcodes if we need more information. All this will be used for is advertising.

Finally, a solution to finding books in libraries (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839725)

Let's say you're standing in a library with 20 shelves in front of you and thousands of books. You could take a picture and you'd immediately know where the book you're looking for is.'

I can't believe it's taken so long to come up with a solution to for finding books in libraries [wikipedia.org] . Maybe they can even find a way to extend this to allow online searches for books [loc.gov] .

Re:Finally, a solution to finding books in librari (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28840109)

You mention the Dewey Decimal System, while also linking to the Library of Congress, which uses its own numbering and classification system.

In fact, most academic libraries prefer the LOC's system over Dewey's.

And the best part.... (3, Funny)

Orleron (835910) | more than 5 years ago | (#28840057)

the people at MIT do not have to remember a new word for the technology that replaces barcodes, because the new word, bokode, is pronounced the same way in New England.
/baaaa code/

Extremely cool tech - read the paper!!! (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 5 years ago | (#28840135)

Read their paper. It is very cool! It isn't a photograph but seems to be using micro lenses positioned a focal length away from their matrix of matrix codes, to define a kind of light field where you can acquire information at arbitrary magnification by stepping farther away from the object. Limited only by your camera's resolution I suppose. They even have a prototype lens array based on ANTARCTIC KRILL eye which looks like a bulging disc shaped eye covering 180 degrees horizontally and a good number of degrees up and down too. I'd like to know just how much info can be stored, you could store tons of info on a single surface and scan it with your mobile phone. Of course, can't really think of a good use for it since most people just shoot a photo of the QR code on a poster and go to the web site... if anything the ease of use of the app on the phone, and ease of acquiring the image, are the main issues. So the guy's (bbc video) suggestion that qr codes are unseemly is silly. The point is you can acquire the code from far away and without trying hard to position it in the screen, if I understand correctly. Might be able to boost info density by using a hologram and laser to interogate it though I'd think.. any optical engineer care to say?

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