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Alternative To QR Code Uses NFC and Cheap Rectennas

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the which-infrastructure-do-you-prefer? dept.

Cellphones 164

An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports researchers in Korea have developed a technology that can be used as a viable alternative to QR codes. Made of plastic and electronic ink, the rectennas cost less than one penny each to produce and use the NFC standards for wireless radio communication to devices. They are seen as a cheap, easy-to-print and environmentally friendly way to overcome the limitations and inconvenience of QR codes, the usage of which has greatly increased in the last few years."

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164 comments

Rectannas (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40984587)

Rectannas is just not an appealing word...

Re:Rectannas (4, Funny)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984613)

Reminds me of Cartman's anal probe.

Re:Rectannas (0)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984681)

I guess I'll hove to google to see what the difference between an antenna and a rectenna is, and why they gave rectennas such a goofy name.

Re:Rectannas (4, Informative)

arielCo (995647) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984717)

Quoth the 2nd link in TFS (I know, I'm relatively new here):

A rectenna is a rectifying antenna, a special type of antenna that is used to convert microwave energy into direct current electricity.

(Boldface in the original)

The Truth About Rectannas (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40984921)

I have a reticulating sphincter. It's a BLAST. Literally, hot lava shoots from my ass whenever I have coffee.

Re:The Truth About Rectannas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985829)

Was your coffee machine made by IBM?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RowwNXKEt4k

Re:Rectannas (3, Funny)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986375)

Quoth the 2nd link in TFS (I know, I'm relatively new here):

A rectenna is a rectifying antenna, a special type of antenna that is used to convert microwave energy into direct current electricity.

(Boldface in the original)

Absolutely 100% incorrect. This is a rectal antenna. I knew the cell phone companies would find a way to stick it up our butts eventually.

Re:Rectannas (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985767)

You can experience the joy of a rectenna right now! Just board any flight in the continental US, constantly blink both your eyes when you get to security, and they'll take you to that "special room".

Made for iTards (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40984905)

Rectal antennaes is a feature of the iPhone 5. iTards will be waiting in lines for days to be among the first to have the new antennae shoved in their ass.

Re:Rectannas (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985607)

indeed, their marketing department had concerns about certain unfavorable connotations, so with the next model they are rebranding the line to Poopchutenna(tm).

Missing the point? (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984603)

The entire point of a QR-Code is that it can be placed where-ever anything visual can be placed. You can put a QR code on a billboard, on a streetsign, on a television image, in a newspaper, on a bus ad...

Re:Missing the point? (4, Insightful)

Grantbridge (1377621) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984679)

The great thing about text is you can put it anywhere anything visual can be placed! You can but a tinyurl.com/acmeadd on a billboard, on a streetsign, on a television image.... (And its still quicker to type than to get the camera all lined up to QR code something you pass on a bus.)

Re:Missing the point? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40984855)

More importantly, you can't effectively remember a QR to later draw it for your smartphone to take a picture, but with practice you can remember short URLs quickly passing by.

Re:Missing the point? (2)

tofubeer (1746800) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985399)

Which is why you should always put the URL with the QR code. Even better - put an NFC tag behind the QR code as well and all bases are covered.

Re:Missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985621)

... but you can bookmark the URL, or remember what you see in your browser, or Google it later.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985109)

The great thing about text is you can put it anywhere anything visual can be placed! You can but a tinyurl.com/acmeadd on a billboard, on a streetsign, on a television image....

(And its still quicker to type than to get the camera all lined up to QR code something you pass on a bus.)

Ding ding ding!

Here's the thing: We must continue to build for people not smartphones. QR codes are a cute little something for people who are glued to their mobile internet devices, but the problem is that enough people still don't have smartphones (nor can we expect everyone to have a smartphone for a very, very long time). However, most people have brains that can mostly remember short URLs, cell phones with "notes" functions that allow them to take down quick reminders, or even (if you're over 60) a pen and pad on hand.

Re:Missing the point? (3, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986203)

I can't afford a smartphone, or more accurately, I can't afford the mandatory increased phone bill due to the requirement to get a data plan to go with it.

Re:Missing the point? (4, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985183)

And its still quicker to type than to get the camera all lined up to QR code something you pass on a bus

Actually no, it's not quicker.just typing "tinyurl.com" takes more time than to acquire a QR code.Unless you use a catastrophically inefficient app/UI for the QR.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985495)

It depends on the kind of keyboard and your experience. My teenage brother can type that before you even finished reading it, but he types dozens of SMSs per day.

For most people, yeah, QR codes are probably faster.

Re:Missing the point? (2)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986039)

Your teenage brother can type things faster than he can read (hint: no)? Because if not, he may get the tinyurl.com out quickly, but the rest he still has to transcribe.

Long story short: stop being a dumbass.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985681)

And its still quicker to type than to get the camera all lined up to QR code something you pass on a bus

Actually no, it's not quicker.just typing "tinyurl.com" takes more time than to acquire a QR code.Unless you use a catastrophically inefficient app/UI for the QR.

Also I already use my cellphone camera to record things I want to remember anyway. QR codes are a pretty obvious extension of the concept.

Probably more importantly though, they leverage something which has other benefits to the user - i.e. an NFC antenna *just* does NFC. Whereas there are all sorts of reasons to have a cellphone camera.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985603)

The great thing about both is you can have a QR code and a URL -- place both on your design and let people decide what they want to use. If it's too small for a URL, then you can't have it. If the QR code box is harder to print, you can't use that. Simple.

I fail to understand the QR code griping. If you don't like them, don't use them. No one's forcing you to hold up your phone to a QR code.

QR codes have lots of good uses. There are many situations where you might wait a couple of minutes, and a QR code is easy to scan--I've seen them on conference rooms (to see the schedule); on bus stops (to see the schedule); at offices, etc.

Sure, there are bad uses too, but there are bad websites and I don't hear people complaining "get rid of URLs! some of them lead to bad websites!"

As for the obscurity argument: in a lot of cases, it's not like a tinyURL is any more comprehensible. Also, in most cases if you're going to type text it's faster to Google whatever it is you're interested in and go that way, so the URL is sort of redundant in that way. You're smart, you'll figure out what to Google for.

I'm not against URLs, it's just baffling to me that people act like QR codes will somehow replace URLs completely, or like someone is forcing them to use them. It's like QR codes tap into some deep-seated irrational subconscious fear or psychological complex eating away at some people.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985643)

QR codes are a scam by domain registrars to sell domain names with cute-looking QR codes.

Re:Missing the point? (1, Insightful)

MrAngryForNoReason (711935) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985737)

QR codes are a scam by domain registrars to sell domain names with cute-looking QR codes.

They are more a scam perpetuated by the printing and publishing industries in a desperate attempt to stay relevant in an increasingly online world. "Use QR codes to add value to your print adverts!" they whine as print spends and advertising revenue continue to spiral downwards.

QR codes are so incredibly niche they are pretty much pointless from a marketing point of view. Unless you are marketing specifically to tech savvy people who have smartphones they are completely useless.

Points of failure for a QR code

  1. Must know what a QR code is
  2. Must have a smartphone
  3. Must have a QR reader app
  4. Must be close enough to scan code
  5. Must be quick enough to leap of the sofa and scan TV (for QR codes in ads)

Points of failure for a URL

  1. Must be familiar with browsing the web
  2. Must be able to remember a short word or phrase

Re:Missing the point? (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985857)

Must be able to remember a short word or phrase consisting of a word which may or may not be some alteration on a standard english word, may or may not be the name of the product or company it refers to (steampowered, anyone?), an arbitrary extension (.com, .net, .tv?) then possibly some other weird characters and punctuation and words that may or may not be case sensitive. Then if you are mobile, you have to enter it on a crappy keyboard which will have a varying level of ease-of-use.

Or alternatively, touch "barcode scanner", point at QR code, wait for beep then touch "Go to website".

Re:Missing the point? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40986535)

Wow, I see why they call you "MrAngryForNoReason".

Re:Missing the point? (5, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984807)

When I hear "antenna" and "NFC" I can't help but think that QR has one important "shortcomming" -- it can only get into my phone if I want it to. Now, imagine the marketing potential for something that can be read without user interaction by a helpful app and you'll see the appeal ...

Turn NFC off. Problem solved. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985103)

I disabled NFC on my phone. I can easily turn it on if I want the feature. You could wallpaper my house in NFC ad bugs and I'd never know.

Re:Turn NFC off. Problem solved. (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986257)

Works great... as long as you can turn it off. Now imagine if your phone was not configured to allow such choices by the user.

Re:Turn NFC off. Problem solved. (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986341)

Return the phone and get a different one? Wow, what a hard problem.

Re:Turn NFC off. Problem solved. (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986513)

Unless you Think different!(tm)

Re:Turn NFC off. Problem solved. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40986583)

Are you trying to imply that you can't turn off NFC capability in the iPhone?

Re:Missing the point? (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984971)

The entire point of a QR-Code is that it can be placed where-ever anything visual can be placed. You can put a QR code on a billboard, on a streetsign, on a television image, in a newspaper, on a bus ad...

The entire problem of a QR-Code is that it must placed where anything else visual could be placed. You can put a QR code on a billboard, on a streetsign, on a television image, in a newspaper, on a bus ad... and there's that much less space for the ad art itself.

These rectennas can be covered by advertisement without impairing their function.

Re:Missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985231)

These rectennas can be covered by advertisement without impairing their function.

True, it's just the fact the code will be on a billboard, or a streetsign, or a television, or a newspaper, or a bus ad, that'll impair its function!

If something's going to be touted as a replacement for something else, shouldn't it, y'know, at least have the key functionality of the original?

Re:Missing the point? (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985437)

These rectennas can be covered by advertisement without impairing their function.

NFC == Near Field Communications.

You're going to look pretty silly climbing up onto that billboard with your cellphone.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985793)

As several have pointed out...stupid notion this... This is the NFC version of a Que:Cat...

Re:Missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40986595)

Bilboards are a stupid place to put QR codes in the first place. How are you supposed to scan it while driving?

Re:Missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985087)

never heard of a QR code before. thanks for telling me.

Re:Missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985525)

A QR code is of course a code to calculate the QR decomposition [wikipedia.org] of a matrix.

"Rectenna" sounds painful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40984609)

Ouch.

Is it Cheaper? Easier? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40984641)

The great thing about QR code is all you need is a cheap crappy printer and cheap crappy camera to work. This will die sooner or later. Should have just embrace the QR code.

Re:Is it Cheaper? Easier? (4, Insightful)

3dr (169908) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985115)

No kidding. The summary quoted(?) this nugget: "...to overcome the limitations and inconvenience of QR codes, whose usage has greatly increased in the last few years."

I'd say that the reason usage QR codes has greatly increased in the last few years is because they are not so limited or inconvenient as the article asserts. The QR code may contain several types of information, but in a 2D bit array, you are inherently limited. QR codes are not a high-bandwidth transport, but even if all they contain is a vcard or URL, the URL is the gateway to larger content.

I like QR codes because they are inherently opt-in. Screw the NFC based ad network!

Re:Is it Cheaper? Easier? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985311)

I like QR codes because they are inherently opt-in. Screw the NFC based ad network!

Opt-in? Hah, just you wait! When you'll get your eyePhone, one glance at a QR code and - bamf! - ads are streaming directly into your brain.

Re:Is it Cheaper? Easier? (1)

dwye (1127395) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986065)

I like QR codes because they are inherently opt-in. Screw the NFC based ad network!

Opt-in? Hah, just you wait! When you'll get your eyePhone, one glance at a QR code and - bamf! - ads are streaming directly into your brain.

Shades of Hugh the Borg! We'll all be spending all our brainpower trying to solve impossible QR codes, created by some misprint.

Of course, that QR codes are inherently opt-in is one of their worst features, at least to those buying the adverts.

Environmentally friendly? (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984671)

They are seen as a ... environmentally friendly way to overcome the limitations and inconvenience of QR codes...

I'm mystified how that works. Its not like QR codes are inherently toxic by shape, like prions, nanoparticles, or asbestos fibers.

The only QR code I've ever used for a "real" purpose is holding my phone up to the screen to scan a google authenticator QR code. I'm not sure how that would translate to a NFC solution like this... have to print out on a 3-d printer or something?

Re:Environmentally friendly? (1, Insightful)

rilian4 (591569) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984821)

They are seen as a ... environmentally friendly way to overcome the limitations and inconvenience of QR codes...

I'm mystified how that works. Its not like QR codes are inherently toxic by shape, like prions, nanoparticles, or asbestos fibers.

Using the phrase 'Environmentally Friendly' is how you get liberals to use (or at the very least not blacklist) your product whether it has anything to do with actually being helpful to the environment or not.

Re:Environmentally friendly? (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985015)

The tiny antennas are supposedly "environmentally friendly" because they use very few rare earths & broadcast only a few nanowatts of power. Of course the best thing you can do for the environment is not have any antenna gobbling-up any power at all.

Re:Environmentally friendly? (4, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985145)

Of course the best thing you can do for the environment is not have any antenna gobbling-up any power at all.

What? Are you crazy! This is technology! We must embrace it because it's new and hip and the next best thing since sliced bread so you can be notified of the newest whiz-bang piece of technology which came out three seconds ago.

If you're not connected every second of every day, with the ability to instantly respond, you're not living life to the fullest. How are businesses supposed to notify you of their latest offerings if you're not connected?

Luddite.

Re:Environmentally friendly? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985753)

And I only need to use ink/paint to print a QR-code and can have it on things that I don't need to touch my phone to to have it work.

Fail.

Re:Environmentally friendly? (1)

rullywowr (1831632) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986249)

A QR code is inherently environmentally friendly due to its design. Just check out all the white block spaces which did not have ink applied? If the ad didn't feature a QR code then think of all the extra ink they would be wasting. Oh, the humanity!

Re:Environmentally friendly? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985007)

I'm assuming environmentally friendly vs metal/semiconductor antennas on existing NFC devices, not as compared to QR codes which are clearly very env. friendly.

Re:Environmentally friendly? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985325)

I find it handy to move links from my PC to my phone, just need an addon that generates the codes and it's taken care of. I have also occasionally used them to share contacts, but that's rarer.

Re:Environmentally friendly? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985741)

It's a problem looking for a solution (or how can we make a quick buck doing this...).

Kind of like QueCats, really. NFC isn't a good answer for everything- and a QR Code can be printed on a billboard, etc. Stupid notion- and not at all environmentally friendly like they're making it out to be. But then...they were stupid enough to think QueCats would take off.

Shows What I Know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40984699)

I had no idea that we needed an alternative to QR codes. For that matter, I had no idea that we needed QR codes either.

Most of the people I know repeatedly ask what those funky looking squares are, despite me having explained it to them previously. Of the people that I know who do know what QR codes are. most scanned the codes a couple of times when they were first discovered. They rarely if ever bother again after that, myself included.

I have even less interest in NFC QRtennas. In fact, I have sufficient concern over NFC itself that, if a phone does not offer the ability to turn NFC off completely, I won't buy it.

Regardless; I had no idea that we needed an alternative to QR codes.

Re:Shows What I Know... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40984779)

And what is NFC standards? National Football Coaches? I have No Fscking Clue

Re:Shows What I Know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985591)

I often wonder if the people who named those things had ever heard of the CueCat. QR, CueCat... Sounds like about the same user experience.

Re:Shows What I Know... (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986323)

QR Code is better than what I used to hear people call them when they first came out, 3D Barcodes.
Although, non-techies are often confused by the name QR Code, but immediately guess at 'that funny box type barcode thingie' if you say 3D Barcode.
Oh well, at least I don't have to deal with the snickers for 'rectenna' yet.

Re:Shows What I Know... (1)

plover (150551) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986459)

Not much different than referring to them as 2D barcodes, as if a linear barcode doesn't exist in two dimensions.

limitations and inconvenience of QR codes (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984727)

limitations and inconvenience of QR codes

Which are what exactly?
The only limit I can imagine is the amount of data. Since they typically only store a URL, this is hardly an issue.
And how does this "Rectenna" relate to RFID?

Re:limitations and inconvenience of QR codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40984897)

The limitations and inconvenience of QR codes is that everyone can make them with standard equipment. You could even hand-draw them if you wanted. So there's not much they can sell you.

Re:limitations and inconvenience of QR codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985163)

NFC is another name for RFID.

Re:limitations and inconvenience of QR codes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985251)

Speaking simply as a user, I find QR codes to be inconvenient for quick-and-easy access of simple information. Our county places QR codes on restaurants instead of the old "Grade A" or whatever inspection stickers. In order to know how the restaurant scored, I'd have to pull out my phone, open an app, stand in the doorway of the restaurant, scan the code, and then browse the site to find the score. For something as simple as that, it's too much work for me.

I can only think of a couple of times in my every day life where I have bothered to dig through my phone's apps to find the QR scanner and see what it had to tell me. They might be easy to produce from the company's perspective but too much work for me unless I really, really cared about that product.

Re:limitations and inconvenience of QR codes (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986361)

I have to wonder if your county is violating some regulations as some of that information has to be displayed in a readable format for the populace, and it doesn't matter how much techies or bureaucrats like it, a large percentage of the populace is literally unable to read it as it requires them to have a smartphone and dataplan, something which is definitely expensive and probably qualifies as specialized equipment, not to mention still non-standard equipment.

Re:limitations and inconvenience of QR codes (2)

Local ID10T (790134) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986477)

Gonna call FUD here.

I googled this and found several counties using QR codes as part of the restaurant health ratings, however; none of them use it as a replacement for the existing information. All (of the ones that google could find a link to) use it as an augmentation -it provides a direct link to the detailed inspection report for the location in question... no additional searching required. The basic information (grade, date, location, owner, inspector, etc.) is still stuck on the wall in front of you.

They might be easy to produce from the company's perspective but too much work for me unless I really, really cared about that product.

That is a hell of a line to follow up a comment of food safety with.

Re:limitations and inconvenience of QR codes (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985269)

1. Consumer must actively perform a task (waking up phone and pointing the camera at QR code) to attain product advertisement.
2. Space limits; QR code can only go to URL, which may not be accessible depending on network congestion, losing delicious, delicious advertising opportunities.
3. Consumer can actually, heaven forbid, refuse to scan QR code (NOTE: legal team is working on making this degenerate activity unconstitutional, progress is slow).
4. QR codes make it difficult to take control of our advertising devices from consumers, depriving us of our tasty, luscious advertising opportunities... mmmm... advertising... *pause to wipe drool from face*

Oh, I'm sorry. Did you think QR codes were made for YOU? Wow. Such naivete! That's hilarious! Now get back to consuming, drone! You wouldn't want us to report you as a malfunctioning currency transfer conduit, would you?

Re:limitations and inconvenience of QR codes (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985781)

Rectifying Antenna. It allows the device that's providing the RFID info (which isn't environmentally friendly like the idiot article makes it out to be) pull power from the comms link. Basically speaking if you've got a non-battery "toll-tag" transponder, the device has a Rectenna in it either emitting RF on a different frequency or doing RF-backscatter comms- but the antenna powers the chip doing the RFID exchange on the tag.

Re:limitations and inconvenience of QR codes (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986577)

And how does this "Rectenna" relate to RFID?

A rectenna (or rectifying antenna) is a device for converting radio waves into electrical power. RFIDs use rectennas to power themselves. The device in the story *IS* an RFID, except that instead of transmitting an ID number, it is transmitting a URL.

The problem with QR codes is that they are square and ugly and take up a huge chunk of space in an advertisement. Then, to top it off, you have to print instructions beside, or beneath it, because few people know what they're for. With the rectenna, you can embed the device beneath or behind the ad, and place the directions right over the unit.

limitations and inconvenience of QR codes? (1)

mortonda (5175) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984737)

Whatcha talkin bout Willis?

Re: limitations and inconvenience of QR codes? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985761)

Disclaimer: We have used QR codes somewhat at work.

QR codes serve a purpose but do it poorly. Phones aren't particularly good scanning devices, plus you're holding the phone at arm's length; so reading a QR code often takes several seconds. Then, afterward, you've got a URL in your phone - if you want it on your computer, that's another step.

That said, I have a bigger aversion to NFC. It has a different limitation, that being the requirement of proximity - not practical for use on a billboard, as people have brought up. Also, NFC is not particularly relevant to a lot of print uses where QR codes are often used - are you going to embed a tiny antenna on hundreds of thousands of magazine pages?

And, more importantly, NFC's multi-purpose nature means the end user doesn't know what to expect (unlike QR codes, where you know you're getting a URL or email address), plus the protocol may not be secure - so training consumers to mindlessly tap advertisements that are "in the wild" just seems like a really bad idea.

Re: limitations and inconvenience of QR codes? (2)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986163)

You're using a poor scanner then, or a crap phone (that wouldn't have NFC anyways).

My phone takes maybe half a second to scan a QR code, to the point that I don't even have to actually hold it still... I can *nearly* just wave it in front of the code and have it work, I do have to pause for the half second. By far the limiting time factor is finding the icon and launching the scanner, which would not change with NFC.

The only feature I care about... (1)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984775)

I just want to know how much malware I can pack into one. Runs any javascript? Pretty please?

Rectenna (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | about a year and a half ago | (#40984853)

I know im in the company of friends when the first posts on this topic are about the goofy name thus rendering the immature joke i was about to make concerning rectums and where to shove antennas obsolete!

Printing capacitors and diodes is cool... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985041)

I've built my share of rectennas. None required Cartman's assistance. There is something inherently cool about crystal radios, and the idea that you can print one and store data on it that others can retrieve later will undoubtedly turn out to have applications.

Competing with QR-codes may not be one of them. QR-codes are orders of magnitude cheaper though. Nearly-zero cost if you have to print the entire surface of a can of Sprite anyway. It's hard to see much competition there.

Stick-on NFC tags at a penny a piece might make for a great inventory control system though. The scanner could be angle-independent and easily scan the bottom of devices that are rolling down the conveyor. Assuming the scanners were near equally priced. Tagging a 10k item part inventory in this way and dropping your scan-error rate down an order of magnitude could easily be worth the hundred bucks in tags.

Why not just text recognition? (1)

PiMuNu (865592) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985169)

For most uses, just a printed URL would surely be better? Data compression is higher using QR codes, but transparency is lower - with all the associated security/privacy/openness issues.

Re:Why not just text recognition? (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986187)

Good readers show you the URL before you click through.

And TinyURL is just as bad, FYI... If anything QRCodes allow for *more* transparency.

Rectenna == rfid tag (2)

CKW (409971) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985171)

So... reading up on this stuff... it's *very* clear that what they are talking about is an RFID tag.

Yay, put rfid tags everywhere and have everyone tap their phones against them to "receive information". ...and who determines what information is transferred back and forth and what types of exploitable holes are there in their protocol?

WAIT wait wait. What the researcheres in Korea "discovered" is how to PRINT rfid tags with magnetic inks.

Jeezus, this is what you get when you cross marketing droids with non-technical reporters in news organizations.

This whole slashdot article should be deleted. And the BBC should be ashamed, aren't there some PhDs driving cabs that they could hire to cover their technology news stories?

alternative to QRcodes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985219)

I don't think it'll be a good alternative to QRcodes. QR codes require plain paper, plain ink, and a camera loaded on a smart phone.

QR Codes have an edge ... (1)

Tjp($)pjT (266360) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985367)

QR codes have an edge because they are a free to use standard. and unlike the RF spectrum of the rectennas use, the optical spectrum allows as many QR codes and sensing devices as you can cram together because the optics are simple. The RF equivalent "optics" are a bit more. I also see a problem climbing the side of a building to get to the rectenna's near field range.

Re:QR Codes have an edge ... (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986055)

Plus, QR codes are inherently cheaper since they can be printed using normal ink while the rectennas need magnetic ink. Now I might not know the market rate for each kind of ink, but it's fair to guess that normal ink would be far cheaper. Plus, since you are using that ink to print the rest of your flyer, sign, billboard, etc, you won't need to have a second pass with magnetic ink. It's built into generating the rest of your item.

And plaintext shortlinks have an edge on QR... (1)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986699)

It works on every device with a webbrowser, no code needed, with the additional bonus of having the user type in your URL by hand. Thas marketing!

QRs are just links that you can't click without launching a specific 'click a QR link' reader. Less of all this please.

How is this better? (1)

cyberfunkr (591238) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985397)

Places where "nanoparticles", "rectennas", and "electronic ink" just won't work but QR codes are fine:
1) My business card - Scan the code and it can take you to my website or automatically add my information to your contact list. Is Kinko's going to start printing cards with electronic ink?

2) Flyers - I can print out a flyer with a QR code. Hell, gimme some graph paper and a Sharpie and I can build a QR code. I don't think any store-bought inkjet or laser printer will be printing these any time soon.

3) T-shirts - I can advertise my business by either wearing or giving away t-shirts with QR codes silk-screened on them. Will this new rectenna survive even one wash?

4) Billboards - The first word of "NFC" is "Near". How often do you get "near" a billboard? Unless you're tagging it. In which case I am pretty sure you wouldn't care about getting the advertiser's message.

5) Television - I can put a QR code in a television promo (Shazam is doing the same thing, except with audio). I cannot apply electronic ink to your TV so you can easily use your smart device to get more information about my product.

This is purely a "swiping" technology (must be close enough for the radio waves/microwaves reach my phone). I would never have this turned on by default for the same reason I use a hole punch on RFID credit cards; I want control of what I am sending or receiving. So how is this going to help me? I'm either going to manually load up a QR code app, or a rectenna app.

Touchcode (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985455)

If you think that's cool, check out Touchcode. No need for printed electronics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ20BhyyR9E

QR (1)

fa2k (881632) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985583)

QR codes are "enticing" to some people. I recently heard a kid say "Mom! It's a QR code! can I borrow the phone?". Their distinctive appearance is often more important than their ability to carry data, and they are mostly used for marketing. The most interesting applications which are not for marketing are when QR-codes are displayed on a screen, and this NFC tech can't replace that. (There are some valid applications for printed codes, like in museums, but usually it's better to print a URL). If the researchers make a catchy name and a logo for the NFC-based tags, and if NFC becomes more popular, it could replace QR codes in marketing. It's pretty cool tech, but it seems to be a solution looking for a problem.

Watermark it! (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#40985749)

The number of mobile phones with low-resolution image sensors is going to approach zero over time. There's enough data in a typical smartphone image sensor to pick up subband-coded watermarks in a printed image and very transform-resistant image watermarks have been known science for at least a decade. QR codes, radios, etc. are all unnecessary. Point your phone at the poster and let the image app work out whether there's information embedded in it.

Since this isn't already the norm, there must be a patent that is preventing the progress of the useful sciences here.

Nice and all, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40985963)

Glad they only cost a penny or less to make, but QR codes are free. Well any cost associated with them being solely on the medium they're printed on and usually they are not the main purpose of that medium anyways (such as qr codes on a small advertisement). The one thing though that qr codes are great at is that they are extremely easy to transport or send, physically or electronically. An nfc tag on the other hand may have advantages against qr codes in a physical sense, but you can't email them as you can a pic of a qr code.

Qr codes can hold a lot of information, look at qr version 40. I had it store the Name of artist, band, song title and the entire lyrics to the song Foreplay/long time by Boston. with room to spare (I'm guessing) in just one qr code. Although their was a small snag. I was just barely able to get my gnexus to read it and none of the other smartphones in my house I had access to could read it at all (bionic and a thunderbolt). So yeah that's an issue, but with image quality of smartphone cameras increasing, this shouldn't be much of an issue for very long.

Then nfc has the whole "near" issue. I can take a phone of a large poster or billboard from across the street or something that has a qr on it and scan the photo to read the qr code info. an nfc tag requires me to go up and pretty much touch my phone to the thing, to read it.

so Super cool use of nfc tech and a good way to expand it's usage I think, but it does come with some limitations.

Re:Nice and all, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40986029)

..."I can take a phone of a ..." /facepalm self. I mean't to edit that as: I use a phone or a camera to take a picture of a large.......

NFC sucks (1)

bobbutts (927504) | about a year and a half ago | (#40986571)

Why would I bother enabling this hardware and wasting battery. I used my $10 free from Google Wallet to buy a 6-pack and then disabled NFC. I'll re-enable it when/if Google restocks my account with free money.
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