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Son of CueCat? Purdue Professor Embeds Hyperlinks

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the japan-8-years-ago dept.

Media 94

rbook writes "Remember :CueCat, the "free" (as in beer) bar code scanner that was supposed to change everything by allowing advertisers (or whoever) to put hyperlinks in printed material? Well, the idea is back, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education: 'People who prefer print books over e-books may still want extra digital material to go with them. That's the idea behind Sorin Matei's project, Ubimark, which embeds books with two-dimensional codes that work as hyperlinks when photographed.' Photographing an image and uploading it sounds like more trouble than scanning a bar code to follow a URL, but they figure you can take the photograph with your smartphone and view the web page automatically on the mobile device." It looks like standard QR codes are embedded; what Ubimark is pushing is "a publishing environment which combines print books, ubilinks, a centralized Internet based interactive information repository and computer displays."

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Fail (1)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434330)

They expect everyone to sign up for their "publishing environment" to add these embedded codes to their books? How long is THAT going to take before there's any critical mass of dead trees in people's hands to be able to use this?

Google and Amazon already have thousands of books scanned. All they would need is a photo of any _existing_ book page, do a ballpark OCR on it and fuzzy match the database.

So even if this is a useful idea, which I'm not seeing, from a practical standpoint they are never going to get off the ground with this approach. And if some compelling application were ever found, they would be crushed by the guys with the books.

So a note to the inventors - ditch this ridiculous scheme and if you think there's an opportunity here, figure out how to make it work with the books we already have.

Re:Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32434430)

Hmm. You just gave me an idea. A quick googling leads me to find out how much data you can pack into a 2D barcode. One example is

WaterCode High-density 2D Barcode(440 Bytes/cm2) From MarkAny Inc.

If we can increase the density by about 10 times, you could almost cram a whole damn compressed book into a barcode! That would be pretty cool.

Re:Fail (1, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434622)

Little bit of faulty logic there. What's the point of printing out a big barcode so that people can decode it with their computers? If they're using their computers anyway they could just download the book.

The whole idea in TFA is similarly stupid. The only conceivable reason for using barcodes is to make sure that the premium content only goes to people who bought the book, and to assign a unique ID in each barcode. How is the consumer supposed to get excited about this? All it is for the consumer is an extra artificial step to protect the publisher. It also deprives them of resale rights.

Re:Fail (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32435136)

Little bit of faulty logic there. What's the point of printing out a big barcode so that people can decode it with their computers?

I was thinking more along the lines of something which can be scanned by cellphone or other portable computer. Every piece of machinery that I come in contact with can have it's own MAN page. How do you solve this rubick's cube? Scan its 2d barcode. How do you properly sharpen this knife? Scan its 2d barcode. What's the proper PSI for this automobile tire? Scan the 2d barcode and read all about its proper maintenance. What should I know about this pack of condoms? Scan the 2d barcode for some tips & tricks.

It'd be very cyberpunk, and wouldn't require an active internet connection. A quick scan of a densely packed barcode and you can have all the information about something that you want. We would just need it to be on the order of kilobytes as opposed to bytes.

Re:Fail (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32435802)

What should I know about this pack of condoms? Scan the 2d barcode for some tips & tricks.

I'd expect you'd be in some trouble if your condoms came with tricks

Re:Fail (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32436320)

I'd expect you'd be in some trouble if your condoms came with tricks

I'd expect you'd be in some trouble if your tricks didn't cum with condoms.

Re:Fail (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 4 years ago | (#32437340)

You don't want that manual scan step in there. The RFID tag should just be read by your cellphone, looked up and the information that you need spoken directly to your bluetooth headset.

Re:Fail (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435070)

Better question - why do they expect people to pay them to do something they can so easily do themselves with standard QR codes?

Re:Fail (1)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435150)

Bad ideas never die. They just go dormant for ten years, then emerge from the ground like mindless locusts.

We also call the phenomenon "Everything old is new again."

Re:Fail (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435506)

    I think the problem with this is still the same as the old Cuecat problem. What happens when their master plan folds? Now you have a bunch of media out there with embedded barcodes leading off to a web site that's now defunct. It's as useful as finding an old thread that says "click here for the solution", which is a dead site.

    Someone else posed the idea that the barcode could be the compressed data for the information you were seeking. i.e., a barcode on a tire which holds the tire specs. The problem with that is still, when you're at an old gas station in the middle of nowhere that doesn't even have a phone much less an Internet connection, and there's no cell service to be had for 100 miles in any direction, how much air do you add to your tires? :) Scan here isn't quite as helpful then. I know the tire example is a poor one, not only because it's a car analogy, but the data is printed in plain English on the tire also. :)

    This idea will die off. The links will be worthless again, and in another decade someone else will have this novel idea to barcode everything again.

Re:Fail (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32436672)

Agreed. Here's a novel idea. Provide hyperlinks as... gasp... URLs! You can print them in footnotes. Then, people can get the related content without having to carry around special hardware whose sole purpose is to read links from the one paper book in the universe that has these barcodes. It didn't make sense when Cuecat did it for catalogs, and that's orders of magnitude more frequently updated than books, college textbooks notwithstanding.

I could see this being of some limited utility for college textbooks, but only very limited utility. Most textbook companies already have websites associated with their textbooks for precisely this reason. Those sites are organized in the same way the book is, so it's pretty easy to find the content related to a given chapter, and all you have to do is bookmark a single URL. All that without the need to resort to some unnecessary piece of hardware that can break, get lost, or encounter driver compatibility problems, all without the need to carry the book with you when you go to the computer lab, all without the need for the computer lab to allow you to plug outside hardware into their computers and install drivers, etc.

It didn't make sense then, and it doesn't make sense now.

Re:Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32437334)

Yeah, except this time around, thanks to the ubiquity of featurephones with cameras, you DON'T CARRY A DEDICATED PIECE OF HARDWARE! It's like they read your criticism (or anyone else's -- everyone knows that's why cuecat failed), and saw a way to reintroduce the same concept, but WITHOUT the fatal flaw, and you're still criticizing them for that flaw.

And, as you might have guessed from the "eight-years-ago-in-japan" department, yeah. The concept works, when instead of a new device, you just add software to the phone everyone has with them and uses as a web terminal. Note that nothing stops you from printing the URL under the QRcode for people at desktops lacking webcams and/or QRc software, or for use with the odd mobile lacking a camera (required for work in some security-conscious places), and I'd expect this _is_ done. But most of the time people are reading a book, their desktop isn't handy, but a phone or other mobile device is, and scanning a code with the camera is _much_ easier than typing the URL using a phone keyboard. The combination of ease and spontaneity is what makes it workable.

Re:Fail (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32447886)

Having tried to use smartphone cameras for barcode reading, I'm not convinced this will work well at all unless the barcode is the size of an entire page. Most of them don't focus well up close at all, and are pretty unreliable even for low density barcodes in good light. Heaven help you if you try to do high density barcodes with actual URLs embedded in poor light.

Further, unless you're running custom software on the phone (which means dozens of different versions of the software) to decode the barcodes on the device, you'll be sending a large, high resolution image over cell networks, so there goes a couple of minutes per barcode.

When you're done, you either have to view the content on a little cell phone screen (undesirable) or have to move the URL from the phone to a computer somehow. So you have three choices:

  • Hand copy the URL from the device
  • Use custom software on the computer to fetch the URL from the device
  • Use a website for the communication, which means having to carry around a URL (that would probably be different for each textbook company) to type in by hand (so you might as well just memorize the textbook publisher's website).

Either way, my main point was that this is a lot of complexity for no benefit. Even if you can use hardware you already have, it's still a half dozen steps per link. By comparison, you can Google search the publisher's website in a couple seconds, click on a link from their front page to "textbook extras" or whatever, and bring up the extras for your book, then get to the next one by clicking back and clicking the next link down. That's at least a minute less work per link.

And even if that complexity somehow bought you some advantage (it doesn't), it would still bring with it major disadvantages. With a website for the book, you can *add* content after the book is published. With barcodes in the margins, you're stuck with the set of additional content that you were able to come up with before publication. And if you're navigating around a site manually, you can find errata interspersed with the examples, too. If you're navigating only with explicit links from the book, the best you can do is have a link to the errata for a chapter. Less useful than a well-designed site.

The reason the CueCat failed is not because of the dedicated hardware. They gave them out for free by the millions at Radio Shack. They still failed. The reason CueCat failed is that the entire premise is misguided. The whole reason the web is powerful is that hyperlinks can be added after the fact as you come up with new ideas. Printing links in a book will always be far less useful than creating a flexible web site that can be expanded at will, and no matter how easy you make it, it will never be as easy as going to the book's website, and it will never be as flexible.

Re:Fail (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32440640)

Yep. Like "network computers" (dumb terminals) and now cloud computing.

Re:Fail (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32436006)

I remember Guido Sohne tried to sell free software bar codes to the people of Africa. He is now dead [kabissa.org] . You can't make a living from that.

Re:Fail (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#32436894)

I remember Guido Sohne tried to sell free software bar codes to the people of Africa. He is now dead [kabissa.org] . You can't make a living from that.

It's true; dyin' ain't much of a livin'...

Re:Fail (2, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32436306)

No, the fail here is morons still trying to use barcodes, QR codes, etc. when a simple hyperlink will suffice, look less retarded, take less space, be human-readable, etc.

Re:Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32442808)

No, the fail here is morons still trying to use barcodes, QR codes, etc. when a simple hyperlink will suffice, look less retarded, take less space, be human-readable, etc.

Well, yes, except that not all hyperlinks are simple: "http : //news.slashdot.org/story/10/06/02/1711228/Son-of-CueCat-Purdue-Professor-Embeds-Hyperlinks" (After removing the local chunder).

Not every input device is "typing friendly". I prefer mobile devices with Grafitti support over keyboards, actually, typing is so bad on those tiny little things.

QR codes are a great way to grab a new Android app with minimal muss and fuss when you discover on using your desktop web browser (with a full-sized keyboard and mouse) and want to load it directly into the phone.

Re:Fail (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32436622)

Google and Amazon already have thousands of books scanned. All they would need is a photo of any _existing_ book page, do a ballpark OCR on it and fuzzy match the database.

I think this is a great idea! You don't even need a whole page. I did a quick search for the next sentence in the book I was reading, and got a single hit (which was for the book I was reading). Not sure what to do with this data once we have it but it's certainly technically very plausible.

Golden Girls! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32434352)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you through a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say thank you for being a friend.

Bar none (0, Redundant)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434356)

Photographing an image and uploading it sounds like more trouble than scanning a bar code to follow a URL

Only if you have a bar code reader. I don't, but I do have a cameraphone. Easy enough to email a picture from my phone to my PC, not so easy to buy a bar code reader and carry it around with me all the time.

Re:Bar none (3, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434792)

... or something like the BarCode Scanner application for Android which uses the camera to read 1d and 2d barcodes and takes you to the web page/ download/ web search/etc. This is really easy to use. Just point it at the barcode and it figures out what to do.

Re:Bar none (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435374)

I showed a friend how to 'install' apps with this. He was blown away, no more typing in something archaic. Magazines could link directly to the App in their reviews. Google has also been including them for Checksums on code.google.com

You could print them on business cards with all your data so that it didn't have to be entered manually...

Yeah... (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434366)

...if you (like myself and my fiancee) are one of the few people out there that still appreciate dead-tree books, you are also likely one of those people that won't give a fuck about something like this.

Re:Yeah... (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434412)

Well said. This is a solution looking for a problem and an audience.

Re:Yeah... (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434534)

I suspect it is a guy looking for investor capital.

1. Show solution in search of a problem.
2. Get investor capital.
3. Buy new car and house.
4. Hookers and blow
5. ???
6. Investors have shares of bankrupt company.
7. Keep car and house. (Profit!!!)

Re:Yeah... (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434874)

This is a solution looking for a problem and an audience.

In the last Musician's Friend catalog, I noticed these embedded code-looking thingies that send you to a YouTube video of the guitar or keyboard or whatever being used if you simply take a picture with your mobile phone. I didn't bother, and I don't imagine most people are bothering.

But still, if it enhances advertising, you can bet we're going to see these things everywhere soon. It used to be pron that drove tech innovation, but make no mistake, it's now marketing that's driving the bus.

Re:Yeah... (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434968)

I agree with what you are saying, I just don't think the solution in the main article is THE solution. As smart phones get more and more powerful, I think we can all agree that the future is very wide open and undefined.

Re:Yeah... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32435106)

Doesn't having a fiancee (or girlfriend for that matter) put you outside the demographic of this website anyway? It's already obvious that you wouldn't care!

Re:Yeah... (1)

i love pineapples (742841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435196)

...if you (like myself and my fiancee) are one of the few people out there that still appreciate dead-tree books...

Nitpicking, maybe... but you actually think that there are only a FEW people who still appreciate paper books? We must live in very different places, because even the nerdiest of my social circle (and I work in InfoSec) won't touch e-books with a ten foot pole.

Re:Yeah... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435742)

Appreciate and still actively collect? Our social circle is filled with very like-minded people (into comics, video games, movies, pen and paper RPGs, etc.), and we are the only two who actively collect books (excluding comics...most of our friends do that, but I don't count comics and dead-tree books in the same category). Most of them still have books from when they were younger, but they don't currently still buy books on a regular basis.

In fact, when we recently moved into our apartment two months ago, I'd say the vast majority of non-furniture that we moved were boxes of books. We have more book cases than other types of furniture combined :-)

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32435408)

Actually, depending on what genre of dead-tree books you like, this is exactly the thing you ought to be interested in. The idea is that it augments dead-tree books... if you're reading a cookbook, you can get a recipe with an ubimark that links to a video demo showing you the technique. if you're reading a network security book, you can read about a hole, then get an ubimark with a site where you can interact with the exploit, etc. Most non-fiction, instructional type books could be augmented in a useful way.

Obviously, there are some genres where ubimarks would be horrible... like reading a novel and getting ubimarks linking to photos of the hollywood cast for the terrible movie rendition. but it could also be helpful with fiction books that have lots of characters (ubimark to an interactive character relationship diagram, passing info to only expose characters encountered so far, but not revealing those to come) or environments (ubimark to google map style site of middle earth, etc.).

Re:Yeah... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435776)

Good point, hadn't really thought of it that way...of course, if you are into cooking and nerdy, you should have a laptop/tablet/all-in-one touchscreen PC in your kitchen ;-)

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32439236)

oh boy, secret decoder ring. ....drink ovaltine.....

Cool (1)

2names (531755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434374)

I have an idea that involves transmitting beeps on a wire that can then be translated into words. Every household will have a beep maker and a beep interpreter. It will rule.

Free (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434388)

>> CueCat, the "free" (as in beer)

More like, "free" (as in Gonorrhea)

Re:Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32435238)



Lucky! I had to pay for mine...

Re:Free (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435386)

Gonorrhea cost $20 from any crack whore.

Re:Free (1)

gregstumph (442817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435616)

On a related note, how do I get me some of this free beer everyone keeps talking about?

Re:Free (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435718)

You have to have sex to get it? That's not fair! I want one!

Re:Free (1)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 4 years ago | (#32436974)

Note: the "free (as in beer)" comment is never going to be funny, no matter how many times you repeat it.

Re:Free (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 4 years ago | (#32437996)

I think it's gone beyond the level of being funny to an informal way to add information to the communication.

Re:Free (1)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 4 years ago | (#32441944)

But what information is it trying to add? I see "free (as in beer)" and "free (as in speech)" alot but I have yet to figure out what the difference is between them is.

Re:Free (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 4 years ago | (#32445164)

Free (as in beer) means that it doesn't cost any money.

Free (as in speech) means that you are free to do what you want.

In terms of software, you can have software that has a restrictive license, but doesn't cost any money. This would be free as in beer.

There is also software that costs money, but you are still free to modify the source code, and do whatever else you want with it. The best example of this that I can think of would be the various supported flavours of Linux. These would be free (as in speech).

Some people also use the latin terms Libre (free as in speech) and gratis (free as in beer).

Re:Free (1)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463362)

Thank you alot for explaining that.

Re:Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32438204)

Best comment of the day.

In the future (1)

Random2 (1412773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434392)

This might actually be worthwhile one we have visual implants or some other way for processors to affect our eyes. But, until then it seems kinda pointless.

However, when it DOES affect our eyes, I imagine pop-up ads will only get worse....

Re:In the future (1)

2names (531755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434586)

"However, when it DOES affect our eyes, I imagine pop-up ads will only get worse...."

Absolutely. Every time you take a piss a Viagra ad will pop up.

Novel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32434406)

photography + book = hard to use E-book reader?

Grammar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32434444)

which embeds books with two-dimensional codes

which embeds [two-dimensional] codes in books.

I don't just remember it (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434446)

I still have mine

Re:I don't just remember it (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435044)

I still have mine

Really? Just....don't ... touch me with it! Keep it away! ARGGGGHHHH!

DRM (4, Interesting)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434478)

Brilliant! All they need to do is force you to register when you want to view the digital content with your photo of the relevant page and include a unique part to the code in the book (so it can't be registered again by a different person) and they've stamped out resales of printed text books too.

Re:DRM (2, Funny)

game kid (805301) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434726)

That's probably the plan if they're calling it Ubimark [slashdot.org] . :(

Re:DRM (1)

unix1 (1667411) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434876)

And do it in the name of "social networking" - e.g. their version of online book clubs.

What's the value add here? (2, Insightful)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434510)

*yawn* Guy takes standard QR codes, markets them against his specific web properties and/or mobile apps. Even the most steadfast of print publishers have cottoned on to the web by now. I have trouble imagining (and the ubimark site doesn't help) why a publisher would use this "platform" instead of just dropping in QR codes with URLs for the usual publisher-presented online offerings?

Re:What's the value add here? (4, Insightful)

theNetImp (190602) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434764)

Agreed. This "technology" is all over Japan. 90% of advertisements use them. 95% of phones can read them. Stores and venues even have devices to read them off of your phones LCD so you can use ones you find on the web as coupons. This is old tech, and old news.

Re:What's the value add here? (1)

initialE (758110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32452704)

... So in other words the Japanese are successfully commercializing it? That there is a market for such materials?

print & digital (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434568)

I've been thinking for a while that it would be terrific if printed books came with a free digital copy...

Some kind wax scratch-off on the cover to reveal a unique serial number. Or maybe something generated at the register and printed on your receipt.

I much prefer the digital copy for portability and general reading... But if it's a genuinely good book I'll wind up wanting a physical copy as well.

Re:print & digital (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434640)

For some things, like text books, manuals, howto type books, etc. having the paper and electronic version would be great. O'Reily did this with one of the "animal" Perl books - buy the one book, get all 6 on CD.

For enjoyment reading I think I'll stick with a paper copy...

Re:print & digital (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435360)

For enjoyment reading I think I'll stick with a paper copy...

It really depends on the book.

Lovecraftian stuff, to me, demands paper. So much of the background revolves around ancient tomes that it seems wrong to read it electronically.

Stories that really play on the book theme, like Mister B. Gone [wikipedia.org] it again makes sense to have it in paper.

For a lot of my books, it really doesn't matter so much either way. A paperback is plenty portable, as long as you're only carrying one or two around. When I'm away from home for a while though, it gets awkward to carry a pile of books, which makes the electronic format much nicer.

Electronic is also nice for bulky books... The electronic form of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror [wikipedia.org] is much more portable than the paper version. Easier to read, too - don't have to support that bulky book while reading.

And readability is an issue for me. My eyes aren't as good as they used to be... I can just crank up the font size on my ereader, instead of having to use industrial-strength reading glasses.

Re:print & digital (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434702)

Even if it was a $0.99 digital copy, I can see many people going for it. Hell, Amazon should offer that where possible to generate sales for Kindle. Offer the Kindle version for free or low cost with the purchase of a paper copy. I'm honestly not sure if they're already doing this in some cases but I am sure they should. :p

This is not a good idea (1)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434588)

The whole thing about having books is to have knowledge that is self-contained to a degree. If I want richer content, I search the web for it. Plus, a book stays in your shelf, but who knows how long the publisher will keep content around? it looks like an scheme for milking readers...

Missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32434592)

Is it really easier to photograph a image based code and convert that to a link with this software rather than say ... having a website address printed on the page which can then be typed into any browser on pretty much any device? Hell, I don't even want links all over my books, if I want to find something related to what I'm reading I can use a search engine. More is not always better and I like my books the way they are, leave this crap for e-books.

Where have I seen this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32434676)

Queue (or should I say :Cuecat) Microsoft Tag comparisons...

http://tag.microsoft.com/consumer/index.aspx

Re:Where have I seen this before? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435128)

Wow...and you even used the word cuecat - but you somehow missed on the proper usage of cue.

UneBayable (1)

skuzzlebutt (177224) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434692)

I still have my CueCat...couldn't think of a good use for it, it's still in the wrapper, even.

Reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32434706)

> Photographing an image and uploading it sounds like more trouble than scanning a bar code to follow a URL, but they figure you can take the photograph with your smartphone and view the web page automatically on the mobile device.

It sounds that way, because you are probably a Linux geek used to the fact that the simplest things always take a few more steps than on OSX or Windows, and you don't own a smartphone, where software can be written to take a picture and follow a URL in one step.

Unnecessarily complicated.. (1)

Tenek (738297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434768)

It sounds like they could instead just print "example.com/foo" and let you figure it out yourself.

Nokia already did this, it didn't catch on (1)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434784)

My Nokia N95 (from 2-3 years ago) already can do this. On the "Office" menu, there's a Barcode application that uses the phone's camera to read 2D barcodes and decode them.

There's a page about it here: http://n95blog.com/barcodes-and-barcode-reader-for-s60/ [n95blog.com]

I just tried it, and it does work. The barcode on that page decodes to http://n95blog.com [n95blog.com]

No, but this is different. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435884)

This is in America and therefore real, whereas the Nokia was the rest of the world and therefore doesn't exist.

He should patent it quick before anyone notices.

 

Upcode (1)

vuo (156163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32436580)

This is Upcode [www.upc.fi] , a VTT project. I think this has been the next big thing for several years already, any day now we're supposed to have these in every magazine and so on.

As many must have pointed out by now, (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434840)

We do this today with QR codes and smartphones. My Android handles this just fine. I've even gotten a QR off the window of a yogurt shop to send the location to Facebook friends.

Sorry, professor, you're late to this party.

ps- I messed around with CueCats a while a go, got a dozen for free. Hack the firmware and they were useful scanners. Took them apart and they got embedded in all kinds of stuff, from a keyboard to my back door. They did have issues, but like the i-Opener I had, cheap/free stuff was fun to mangle. Nowadays, everyone wants you to use some Arduino thing instead. Feh. Gimme hackable hardware $5 and I'm ok with having to solder a little bit.

SnapTell already does something similar (1)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 4 years ago | (#32434974)

Who needs to photograph barcodes when SnapTell lets you photograph objects.
http://www.snaptell.com/ [snaptell.com]

Same thing - Scanlife - uses your cellphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32434988)

This link: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2009-05-19-2d-barcodes-camera-phones_N.htm

I have actually seen a Scanlife barcode on an advertisement for a tax law firm, here in Toronto Canada. I looked at it, and I thought, it can't be. They don't seriously think people will snapshot a picture with their cellphone instead of typing YourCompanyNameHere.com when they get home, do you?

Yes, they do. That's their business plan.

And somewhere else, I'm sure there are people think Bar Codes are the Greatest thing for {Beer Drinkers, Card Game Players, Home Aquarium Afficionados} ever, and are coming up with another startup that will revolutionize the world. Or not.

W

Is this really an improvement? (1)

a2wflc (705508) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435056)

by allowing advertisers (or whoever) to put hyperlinks in printed material?

It's easy enough to put a URL. By "hyperlink" I assume they mean something you can "press" (for some definition of press). But if you want a paper book are you the type of person who is going to want to take a photo with your phone to see extra details.

And why not put the effort into a human-readable font that you can photo and follow? Then people can type it or photo it. And it can still have a book-specific ID. And maybe get the recognition to work with a variety of fonts so you can photo-navigate to any printed url.

Did anyone else read that as... (1)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435172)

"...a centralized Internet based interactive information suppository..." No? Just me, then. (Ouch.)

Doomed (2, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435202)

If you've been watching the content business for a while, you get used to these things. Someone at the content-provider end of the business comes up with something that would be very beneficial to them while offering negligible benefits to the consumer, and then they spend a tremendous amount of energy trying to convince consumers that it's a good idea despite consumers' plainly seeing that it would be a pain in the ass with little or no reward. The :CueCat is, of course, the canonical example, but there are many more links in the chains of the Ghost of Stupid Business Plans Past.

The best thing about this plan is that it's plainly aimed at traditionalists who don't care for the web, but what it offers them is an awkward way to get the web content they don't actually want on a tiny screen they probably don't even have, probably while bombarding them with advertising and collecting data about their reading and browsing habits. What's not to like?

Re:Doomed (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32446752)

Mod this up! Brilliant.

The best thing about this plan is that it's plainly aimed at traditionalists who don't care for the web, but what it offers them is an awkward way to get the web content they don't actually want on a tiny screen they probably don't even have, probably while bombarding them with advertising and collecting data about their reading and browsing habits. What's not to like?

Terror (1)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435456)

People who prefer print books over e-books may still want extra digital material to go with them

I really prefer e-books, and now I'm terrified that they could start adding ads to the e-books. I'm not so much worried by pop-ups, nasty as they can be, but by product placement. Imagine "One ring to rule them all (and you'll certainly rule if you buy a diamond ring to your girlfriend), one ring to find them...". Or Nero Wolfe drinking a particular brand of beer... The simple idea makes me shiver.

Nice trap! (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435560)

You take a photo of the book page with your smartphone, and then you get at once the embedded URL and a DMCA violation for taking an copy of a printed book page...

Ubimark answers... (2, Informative)

ubimark (1824794) | more than 4 years ago | (#32435896)

Great comments everyone, even if you are skeptical. A couple of comments. You can join Ubimark by simply commenting on our site. Comments will appear on the chapter web pages and will be available to anyone who scans the upper left corner codes. 2D codes are generated on the fly by the site. Users need not worry about this. 2d codes are a convenient, mature, existing tool that works well with the cell phones we carry in our pockets right now. OCR on the fly or other more sophisticated approaches would need to wait for the next generation of cell phones. Cuecats died because they required dedicated hardware. No need to buy anything here. Simply enjoy your book. Paper is better for reading books. For now, at least. Finally, my grandfather, a farmer with a knack for storytelling and making great plum brandy left me as family heirloom this story. There was a time when people had no knowledge of hangers. Clothes would get dumped on the ground. One day, a fellow drove a nail into a wall and hung his coat from it. The entire village came to see the 8th wonder of the world. After much discussion and debate the village blacksmith came to our fellow and told him: "Lad, to tell you honest, I could have made a better nail than yours, one with a hook! You know what, though? I never thought of it!" This is a conceptual project before anything else, so feel free to comment and interact with us either here or at http://ubimark.com/ [ubimark.com] . You can also follow us on twitter @ithinkblog

Re:Ubimark answers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32439516)

Wow, he really registered a new account just to post that.

My Blackberry does this (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 4 years ago | (#32436034)

I do this with my blackberry.
It's a pretty easy way to add contacts, and you don't need to worry about mistyping their PIN.

I'm surprised it isn't used more often.

Re:My Blackberry does this (1)

mebob (57853) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448696)

What specifically are you doing? Generating the contact QR code on-screen on one phone and snapping a pic/scanning on the other?
I know it's possible but the software I've tried for the storm is all very limited or slow. What software are you using?

George Santayana (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32436382)

'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'
Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense, Scribner's, 1905, page 284"

Sure someone already thought of this... (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32436766)

But how long until some asshat makes these on stickers with the barcode leading directly to a malware infested page and puts the stickers on random products in stores?

Beating a dead cuecat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32437060)

The cutcat's joke was many-faceted.

The first part of the joke was just that it was a dumb idea. No one would ever want to do with a cuecat, what they wanted you to do.

Another related part, was that they gave away cuecats without knowing what people would do with them.

The other part was that they were talking in a sort of threatening manner, concerning people who used it without their software, people who modified it, etc.

We laughed about the last part especially, but over the years since then, courts have upheld that when you receive an object, you really might be bound by the conditions of a contract, maybe even one you know nothing of. The Blizzard case upheld EULAs saying that you can buy something and yet never receive title to it. Sometime close to around the Cuecat saga, the 2600 case upheld DMCA, where the conditions under which a DVD owner is authorized to bypass the protection, are never actually published or known to the owner; we just know that what DeCSS did, wasn't on the whitelist (and using a DVDCSS-approved player, probably is). Maybe this kind of bullshit would have worked for cuecat too, had they spent the money, as hard as that is to believe. Or not. Always in motion, the law is.

(I still have my cuecat, though I have never used it, for anything. It wasn't even fun enough to abuse. But it's cute-looking.)

What we have here is just the first part of the joke. Yes, it's dumb, but not as dumb. And I don't say that to legitimize the idea; it's just that the bar is set so high. Not worthy of Cuecat heritage.

Faulty assumption (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32437182)

People who prefer print books over e-books may still want extra digital material to go with them.

They may, but that group is vanishingly small.

Seems like a dumb use of a smartphone (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#32438530)

Just sayin. You could probably just look the shit by going to the company's website.

I was part of a ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32438912)

I just don't see anything new about this use of digital marks, and in fact, it looks quite crude as compared to existing (but never widely adopted) technology.

About 10 years ago I was part of a beta test of a digital watermark technology well before the cue cat came on the scene, I can't recall what it was called, i mark perhaps, but it embedded a watermark in printed photos that was invisible to the naked eye, yet when one pointed a web cam at the photo it would direct your browser to the embedded url.

They gave away a free Intel web cam to those who participated (when web cams were still rare and pricey).

It was really neat, but way ahead of it's time since residential broadband wasn't an option in the dial-up days and pages with any photos took a real long time to load.

About 16 years behind Japan (1)

FishTankX (1539069) | more than 4 years ago | (#32442098)

This tech has been in Japan for about 16 years in the form of the QR code

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

And permeates the printed media in Japan. Even the burgers at McDonalds have QR codes on them linking to nutrition information about the product.

The QR code is roughly the size of a postage stamp and can actually encode about 4000 alphanumeric characters, or about a page of text. not just limited to hypertext.

monachopra (1)

monachopra (1826610) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467750)

Hi everyone, It was a brilliant attempt to make the people alert of the things.. http://www.resumedictionary.com/ [resumedictionary.com]
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