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Image Recognition on Mobile Phones

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the what-phore dept.

115

mysticalgremlin writes "In a recent presentation, Semacode founder Simon Woodside presents his company's bar code scanning technology that is used in mobile phones. Simon also discusses many places where bar code scanning powered phones are being used. Not bad for an 'image recognizer for a 100 MHz mobile phone processor with 1 MB heap, 320x240 image, on a poorly-optimized Java stack'"

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115 comments

Bar code? (3, Funny)

RedOregon (161027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823985)

And here I thought a bar code was a hand signal you used to let everyone in a large crowd, in a noisy bar, know where you were going next.

Like standing up and holding up five fingers to let everyone know the next bar is the "Five Spot".

Oh well, live and learn.

Re:Bar code? (1)

GMontag (42283) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824009)

I was thinking when one pats their flattened hand on top of their middle finger telling his drunken buddy "wait a f* minute" while getting a hot chick's phone number.

Bar code scanning powered phones? (4, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823999)

Surely you mean "phone-powered bar code scanning", ie using the phone to scan bar codes, not powering the phone by scanning bar codes...

Re:Bar code scanning powered phones? (4, Funny)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824012)

Surely you mean "phone-powered bar code scanning", ie using the phone to scan bar codes, not powering the phone by scanning bar codes...

Perhaps the product is aimed toward use IN SOVIET RUSSIA?

Re:Bar code scanning powered phones? (1)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824030)

Perhaps the product is aimed toward use IN SOVIET RUSSIA?
Wait, don't tell me... barcode scans you?

Re:Bar code scanning powered phones? (0)

Poltras (680608) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824747)

You, my friend, have just ruined the best use of that old joke by my friend SnowZero. I _was_ laughing, you know. Now please apologize to the entire non-troll serious slashdot crowd and go back to your room to meditate on ellipsis humor and sous-entendus.

Re:Bar code scanning powered phones? (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824017)

All you need to harness energy is an area of low entropy... The bar code certainly qualifies!

Re:Bar code scanning powered phones? (3, Interesting)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824244)

The temperature of the black bars must be different from the temperature of the white bars -- simple light/color theory. Therefore, using carbon nanotubules (because you aren't high-techy if you don't), we could set up a system of microscopic thermocouples across those black and white bars. Channel that energy to a central location, and voila! Barcode powered cell-phones.

Re:Bar code scanning powered phones? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824801)

But in order for that to work, Geordi would have to alter the phase of the main deflector array, and I'm pretty sure he's not available.

Re:Bar code scanning powered phones? (3, Interesting)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824338)

Cuecat + cell phone = next big thing? I find it a little hard to believe, but with everything else that they have been throwing into phone I guess this makes some sense.


My favorite use for this would be to conduct instant price comparisons. If I see something that I like, I would like to be able to check the price against Froogle, MySimon, etc.

Re:Bar code scanning powered phones? (2, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824531)

My favorite use for this would be to conduct instant price comparisons.
Be prepared to be ushered out of the store. Chain stores frequently use "secret shoppers" for price comparisons in their areas, and they used to use small handheld scanners for data entry. I bet cell phones are high on the list of inconspicuous tools now, though. Either way, if they're spotted they're shown the door.

Home Depot (and others) also have "No Cameras or Recording Devices" signs posted, so I'm sure they think they reserve the right to toss you out. That doesn't stop them from prominently featuring a shopper with a camera phone showing a ceiling fan to the waiting spouse at home on their TV commercials, though. I know I'd be calling a lawyer if they said "boo" to me about it.

Re:Bar code scanning powered phones? (3, Insightful)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824649)

Their real concern in banning cameras is not competitors learning their prices. After all, they pay lots of money to publish their weekly flier in the Sunday paper. If a secret shopper wants prices they can also bring a pad and pen to the store and write down the SKUs and costs. When I shop at Home Depot I usually have a notebook with all of my measurements and requirements for whatever I am doing. I highly doubt that most associates would stop someone from walking around writing things down.


The real concern is criminals casing the place for a robbery. Even larger stores can be hit by violent crime. I am an avid amateur photographer and I know my rights. Stores have every right to prevent pictures while you are in their building, but they cannot stop you from photographing their store from the street. (Disclaimer: IANAL). If I were a manager and I saw someone taking pictures of the roof, guards, alarm systems, et cetera, I would definitely throw them out. If theives want to hit a store they also need to know where the expensive stuff is kept, so they would be photographing the products.


When I am at Comp USA most of their (otherwise frustrating) sales reps allow me to use their computers to compare the prices of items at other stores. I have bought more from them after learning that they were the best deal during their huge sales. If I walked in with a camera, that would be a different story.

Not bad... (5, Interesting)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824002)

Beleive it or not this is pretty impressive. Computer vision gets quite difficult when you don't have a lot of pixels to work with, as the shapes are all "helpfully" smeared together by the imager. And with the cheap lenses in camera phones, edges can be smeared by more than one pixel. In some of my prior work doing vision systems for Sony Aibos for RoboCup, we had to deal with similar problems (find an orange ball in an image that may be only 3x2 pixels, while ignoring the boundaries between red and yellow objects). So, kudos for the technical achievement, and hopefully they find a better application than the cuecat :)

Re:Not bad... (2, Informative)

RileyCR (672169) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824252)

This is impressive. However this has been going on for a while. And not just barcodes. ABBYY for example has a complete SDK for barcode and full OCR. They use it to extract all bacodes and text on a cell phone, i believe currently support symbian and windows mobile.

Re:Not bad... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824295)

Err ... I've been using my mobile phone's camera as a QR code (2D bar code) scanner on my SonyEriccsson from 3 years back, using the mobile phone's bundled app. Japan has this for years and it got to slashdot today?

object recognition (2, Interesting)

gr8dude (832945) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824539)

In some of my prior work doing vision systems for Sony Aibos for RoboCup, we had to deal with similar problems (find an orange ball in an image that may be only 3x2 pixels, while ignoring the boundaries between red and yellow objects).

Could you tell me which approach was used in your project? I mean, I don't need an uber-detailed description, just some key facts; ex: "we used correlation", or maybe you applied some sort of scaling\rotation - invariant techniques, etc.

As a student, I experimented with image processing last year, and I was amazed by all the cool things that could be done with different algorithms, but I never managed to write a tool that could recognize an object on an image. It sort of worked, but I haven't had time to finalize it and release a version that would work for others too, not only for me, only when launched with a debugger, and only at step-by-step execution :-)

How reliable is object detection on a 3x2 sample? Looking for an orange ball on such a small image... Hmm, won't it be just an orange pixel on such a small image?

Another question - was that pattern recognition? i.e. your program was fed with images of orange balls and it attempted to find them on the target images, or did you somehow define an orange ball (ex: "a closed curve, the color of which must be within the specified RGB range") and the program had to figure the rest by itself?

Re:object recognition (1)

Assassin bug (835070) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824697)

Actually, you can't generate a circle with 5 pixels; however, you can generate a cross. Ever seen a 1 pixel circle, it's a square. Maybe a low res bar code scanner isn't such a big deal because, since pixels are squares the image only needs to generate uniform stacks of either black or white pixels. However, I would guess the minimum pixel size would still have to be as wide as one of the standard bar-code widths to be accurate?

Image recognition my foot (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824584)

I saw this presentation. It sucks. Woodside pointed it at his mom, and the damn thing thought it was his aunt.

Other uses (4, Interesting)

HugePedlar (900427) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824007)

Some years ago, I read an article about the possibility of printing tiny barcodes in newspaper stories that would code for a website address. You'd use a special reader that interfaces with your PC to visit the referenced site. This was supposed to be easier than typing in a lengthy, complicated URL.

We've got around this, mostly by having nice succinct URLs and tinyurl.com for everything else, and who wants to carry a barcode reader with them when they're reading the paper?

However, I wonder whether this idea may have some re-interest. If your mobile phone can read barcodes, we could print them anywhere - in papers, on billboards, TV adverts - and all you'd need to do is take a photo and your phone automatically loads the webpage in its built-in browser.

That might be useful.

Re:Other uses (3, Funny)

cnettel (836611) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824029)

Fancy a set of scrabble-like plastic pieces, with additional barcode cues (barcode + distinct letter form would be easier than just the letter). Then you "set" your text message almost like on an old-style printing press, take a snapshot and voilà!

Coming next: Non-invasive optical punch card recognition. Preserve your valuable yellow-tinted records in pristine condition, while emulating your IBM from the 60s on the cellphone.

Re:Other uses (1)

Flibz (716178) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824101)

The only tricky bit (for tricky read "damned near impossible" (for "damned near" read totally)) would be getting all the manufacturers to work together using the same standard...

If it's not universal if it was to be supported by the media you'd need a couple of inches for the article and another 3 pages for the scanning sections (for Nokia, scan here; For Samsung scan here, etc).

At least bar codes is kind of established... but you'd still need to store a bar code mapping somewhere - in the tinyurl vein perhaps.

I dunno.

Maybe you'd be better off with a java midlet with tinternet support. Then you could remove the manufacturer from the equation.

Re:Other uses (2, Informative)

zeropaper (959464) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824444)

and there's also Semapedia.org who's using semacode to load content from wikipedia (related to a place) really nice idea

Re:Other uses (0)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824060)

Something like this [wikipedia.org]? They tried this with Wired magazine and some others. I tired to convince my girl at the time to let me use it on her as a marital aid, but surprisingly enough, she refused. Maybe she was afraid I'd find her bar code.

Re:Other uses (5, Informative)

mehu (92260) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824096)

If your mobile phone can read barcodes, we could print them anywhere - in papers, on billboards, TV adverts - and all you'd need to do is take a photo and your phone automatically loads the webpage in its built-in browser.
This is already standard in Japan- barcode readers come on pretty much every cell phone here. They read special 2d-matrix barcodes that look like this [wikipedia.org], which generally encode a URL or email address. You don't even need to take a picture of it in the usual sense- you run a little app called "barcode scanner" and just hold your phone over it, and as soon as it recognizes the barcode, it instantly launches the web browser or opens a new email with a specified To: address & possibly a predetermined Subject: line. They're often used on posters & product ads as a "get more info by scanning here" thing, or even to sign up for store memberships & things- hold your phone over the little square, and you instantly get a web page w/ a form to enter your info. Much faster than typing a URL on your phone.

Yet another area where Japanese cell phones are WAY ahead of the US...

In Japan ... not only bar codes ... OCR as well (3, Informative)

mxpengin (516866) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824397)

My phone ( which I have had for more than half a year ) besides the bar code reader, has OCR of roman and japanese characters. And the most impresive use of this in the telephone is the ability to input some japanese word (yes in Kanji) directly into the dictionary. Really impresive for us non native japanese speakers. My phone is a sanyo w32SA [sanyo-keitai.com] , in the link you can read about in the part OCR kino.

Re:Other uses (1)

kjorn (687709) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824105)

The government, here in the UK is adopting this technology. Phones are given to the partially sighted people, then at zebra crossings they can take a photo and the phone can tell them where they are.

The Java stack in the phone calls the highways agency using SOAP, this then cross references the zebra crossing ID with the lat-lon, this is used with XML to look up the street address via maps.google.co.uk, the street name is then passed to an operator who phones the mobile and talks to the partially sighted person.

At this very moment there are workmen outside re-painting the zebra crossing lines on the road.

The government looked into punching studs into the road, so blind people could read the brale with their feet, but a persons foot resolution of studs is too low.

Hope that helps.

monk.e.boy

Re:Other uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824149)

Was that an attempt at a joke?

Re:Other uses (5, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824167)

It was called a "cuecat," and it became one of the great punchlines (along with AOL CDs, foosball tables, VRML, and Jon Katz) of the dot-com era. Cuecats presumed that people read magazines alongside their computers, completely missing the point that if anyone was that "wired" he would be reading his magazines online to begin with.

If your mobile phone can read barcodes, we could print them anywhere - in papers, on billboards, TV adverts - and all you'd need to do is take a photo and your phone automatically loads the webpage in its built-in browser.

These are the generic mass "in-your-face" ads that people, generally, try to avoid but cannot. Ads we "want to see," at least in theory, are, again, those that materialize in the marginalia of our web pages as a result of our search metadata being analyzed. The mobile phone bar scanners are, like the cuecats, already obsolete. If you can't remember the product the billboard is hawking, the billboarder has not done his basic job and does not deserve any gadgetery boost. And if you can remember the product, you can google it.

Anyone running around pointing his cellphone at a billboard so he can capture the barcode and WAP-surf to the company's website should be rounded up, made to serve Nicholas Negroponte his frappe latte mocchachino in bed for a week, ride a segway from Grand Central Station to Wall Street, and have "TOOL" tatooed on his forehead in front of a crowd of 600 fat, drooling, naked, middle-aged "digerati" marketing execs at the next Burning Man festival.

Re:Other uses (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824266)

I totally disagree: First: It might be new to you, but the web isn't build out of static pages, but can be used interactive. Barcodes like these could be used to do things like voting by scanning the corresponding barcode, ordering stuff.
Second: Entering webadresses on a mobile phone UI is allways a lot of work. When this system is adopted widely, you could just scan the barcode at the bus stop, to load the page with bus times, scan the code at a painting (in or outside a museum), to get more info about it, etc. In other words: it acts as an link between the real and the online world. I think they would be highly usefull, if they would be widespead (in both phones, and applications for them).

Re:Other uses (2, Interesting)

rm999 (775449) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824294)

I think the cell phone scanner has potential if the phone is connected to the internet. It could be used to buy things from vending machines, for example (I'd be surprised if this hasn't been tried in japan).

Re:Other uses (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824299)

If you can't remember the product the billboard is hawking, the billboarder has not done his basic job
I'm not sure how you mean that statement, but a large part of advertising is to create "product recognition".

In other words, they don't care if you remember the billboard, as long as you recognize the name/picture/slogan/it that was on it the next time you're shopping.

Re:Other uses (2, Informative)

JanneM (7445) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824183)

However, I wonder whether this idea may have some re-interest. If your mobile phone can read barcodes, we could print them anywhere - in papers, on billboards, TV adverts - and all you'd need to do is take a photo and your phone automatically loads the webpage in its built-in browser.

Exactly this has been available and used everywhere in Japan for a few years already.

In Japan, these are all over the place (1)

achurch (201270) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824263)

Literally. It's a QR code [wikipedia.org], not a standard linear barcode, but it's the same concept, and these days probably more ads, information posters and the like have them than don't, and virtually all cell phones have cameras that can decode them into URLs. No links handy (who'd need barcodes when you're already on the web?), so you'll have to take my word for it, but they really are everywhere. Even the wrappers on McDonalds burgers have codes that take you to their *cough* nutrition information page.

Re:Other uses (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825080)

" If your mobile phone can read barcodes, we could print them anywhere - in papers, on billboards, TV adverts - and all you'd need to do is take a photo and your phone automatically loads the webpage in its built-in browser."

I don't think I'd mind that. I already use the camera in my phone to take photos of price tags + model numbers of things I see when I go shopping. When I get home I look up reviews etc. My next phone's going to be a Treo. I'm digging the idea of getting the reviews right there at the store. (Has anybody done this? Is it practical, or am I still going to prefer just going home and using my full-sized browser?)

Doesn't this already exist? (1)

ShadoHawk (741112) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824046)

I know it is EXACTLY a bar code, but what about shotcodes? [shotcode.com] They look to bee similar to bar codes, just round. And they work just great with my phone and the getjar.com.

Re:Doesn't this already exist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824369)

what about shotcodes? they died because their list of phones that are supported is tiny at best and olny really old models. Hell the Razr V3 is not listed or even Any Treo newer than the 600.

Problem is that they will die because you need to go out of your way to install the app, and most people do not have a phone that is compatable.

We understand... (5, Funny)

novus ordo (843883) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824049)

Note: We are sorry that these talks are not available through BitTorrent, however under present IST policy we are not allowed to run BitTorrent. We thank you for your understanding.
We, the slashdot army, are sorry that we have used up all your bandwidth for the next 20 years. We thank you for your understanding.

Re:We understand... (1)

coffeeisclassy (991791) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825374)

no no, thank you :-) Perhaps the policy will change and bittorent will be allowed (nothing like using a half a tera byte a day to get people to reconsider :-) .

Now heres something useful (1)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824050)

This can be very useful. Scan a barcode while at a store for a TV for instance, and have your phone go out and check amazon.com, bestbuy circuit city compusa and price shop through your phone while at the store and decide whether or not you will buy there. Thats an awesome idea. Heh.

Re:Now heres something useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824090)

Right, so, without the barcode you can't do this?

Re:Now heres something useful (1)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824203)

No you can but a nifty java app would be able to allow you see other store's prices after you scan the UPC.

Re:Now heres something useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824335)

1)Scan a barcode of a book while at the thrift store
2)Have your phone go to half.com (or ebay) and find the prices paid for the book
3)Buy up $10 books for $0.25 each
4)Profit!

Lookup Required (3, Informative)

hey (83763) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824069)

Once a barcode is read you just get the product code. What good is that?
You need then to lookup that code up in a database for real info.

Re:Lookup Required (3, Insightful)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824213)

Once a barcode is read you just get the product code. What good is that? You need then to lookup that code up in a database for real info.

As mentioned above, it could give you the lowest prices found on Froogle, Amazon, etc . . . or if they want to do something *really* neat, tell you if that product is available for considerably less (or on sale!) at a different store nearby.

Re:Lookup Required (1)

jelle (14827) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824588)

"or if they want to do something *really* neat, tell you if that product is available for considerably less (or on sale!) at a different store nearby."

They will find a unique solution to making that feature utterly useless, such as not telling the user that the price is after a Mail-In-Rebate that expired yesterday.

PS: have Opera on your phone? You may already have that feature: Try this http://froogle.google.com/froogle?btnG=Search+Froo gle&q=sandisk&addr=90210&lnk=flp&lmode=local [google.com]

And uh, no, that is not my zip... It's just one I somehow remember (damn tv series).

Re:Lookup Required (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824230)

They aren't trying to recognize 1-D barcodes (ya know, normal barcodes).

"It needs to locate and read two-dimensional barcodes"

Nowadays, PDF417 [wikipedia.org] is the standard for 2d barcodes.
http://www.barcodeman.com/faq/2dbarcode.gif [barcodeman.com]

It can store between 10 and a crapload of characters

A 320x240 image gives you plenty of characters, depending on how much redundancy you want to throw in.

Some envelope-back calculations (2, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824532)

Your comment got me thinking about how much information you could squeeze into one of those barcodes.

At most, a 320x240 tag would give you 76,800 bits of information, or slightly less than 11,000 7-bit ASCII characters. That's assuming you could match the pixels of the tag to the camera's sensor exactly.

I assume you probably wouldn't want to use any more than half of the camera's vertical and horizontal resolution though, which leaves you with 160x120 (for 2,700 characters), and I assume you'd need to have a few rows blacked-out on at least two sides to identify the border of the tag (so subtract (160+120)*2 pixels for bordering...that leaves 2662 characters) and you'd probably want to have a hash or checksum (lose 128 bits).

Still, that leaves about 2,643 characters in an image, which is about a page and a half of typed text using the old guideline of approximately 1,500 characters per page.

That's pretty impressive; provided you could make your reader focus on objects near to the lens, so that you could make the tag suitably small (less than an inch or so across), that's a lot more efficent way to convey textual information than actually writing it out. Instead of just embedding a URL link, you could put written information on there; maybe stuff that would clutter up the packaging / display / poster if you wrote it all down. If these things became ubiquitious, I could see whole advertising campaigns in urban areas (e.g. subways) where the "ad" got you interested, and then you could get more information via the tag.

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, and it sounds like it may not be far off from that.

Re:Some envelope-back calculations (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825146)

Anyone who has ever played around with something like Delicious Library would probably have an idea of how much (or should I say little) resolution it takes to scan a barcode. Granted, DL only does standard 1D barcodes as far as I know, but I've never had it mis-scan something, and most barcodes take under 10% of the camera's viewable area when they're read, and it's only 640x480. Of course, standard UPC codes only old 12 digits (and AFAIK one of them is a parity bit), but I'm quite sure you don't need the thing working in a 1:1 ratio when going. Each number on the UPC code has a width of seven units, plus the end and center identifiers, gives you a width of around 100 units (this is of course scaled to the print size, each unit could be 10px or whatever). And I'm certainly not presenting it a barcode held up so it's exactly 100px wide in the camera. I'd imagine it has some damned good abilies to scale and manipulate the thing to figure out what it actually should be, rather than relying on a picture-perfect analysis. Unsurprisingly, embedding text in a standard barcode (generally Code39, which is a general-purpose anything-but-UPC barcode, often what libraries and whatnot use to label their books) is possible, but each character tends to be between 5 and 10mm wide depending on the printing, so an actual "bar" code wouldn't be at all effective for something like this.

Now the trick with the DL software is that once it scans the barcode, it then does a product lookup on Amazon by UPC. It's only designed for books, movies, games and music, but I'm fairly sure that Amazon would have every one of their products listed with its UPC. If these phones could simply scan a UPC (versus the 2D datamatrix code) and then check some MASSIVE central database, which itself could contain the links to the product info, wouldn't it be better? Rather than adding another code to your product, you only use the existing one. More importantly, if the product information or URL changes, you don't have every one of your products or even just shelf stickers pointing to an invalid link - since the link is embedded in the datamatrix, it can't be updated, so companies wouldn't really be able to update the logic of their websites (a smaller place starting with example.com/product1.html wouldn't easily be able to change over to example.com/product.php?upc=293750183404 upon outgrowing that rather noobish approach). It seems to me that a centralized approach would be better, where upc.org/?upc=123456789101 would spit back the link instead, so rather than updating the datamatrix code on a million boxes with a new sticker, you just modify the entry in the central database appropriately.

Dunno, my 2c. Anything's a step forward from what we have now.

Re:Lookup Required (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15825377)

plain wrong my friend, 2D-barcodes standards are Datamatrix, QR-Code and Aztec.
PDF-417 is a what we call a stacked symbology, (many 1D codes stacked with the same start/stop)
My 2 cents...

Re:Lookup Required (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824436)

Well, from the video, this isn't a product barcode - it's arbitrary data that's encoded. One demo app is using it to encode URL's so that you scan the "barcode" and the web page comes up on your cell phone's browser. Another thing people did with the free version was to tag real world items with barcodes containing WikiPedia references. Apparently Quest used it for a competition where people had to find and scan barcodes printed on Quest advertizements around town.

Getting soft (4, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824077)

> Not bad for an 'image recognizer for a 100 MHz mobile phone processor with 1 MB heap, 320x240
> image, on a poorly-optimized Java stack'"

10 or so years ago we had 3d games on 7mhz machines with 512k of ram, pretty much the same screen resolution yadda yadda - this isn't so impressive.

Re:Getting soft (2, Insightful)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824193)

10 or so years ago we had 3d games on 7mhz machines with 512k of ram, pretty much the same screen resolution yadda yadda - this isn't so impressive.

Rendering 3D and making sense of a real 3D environment are quite different feats however.

Re:Getting soft (1)

doti (966971) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824349)

Bar code scanning is waaaaaaaaaayyy simpler than sensing a real 3D environment.

In fact, making sense of a real 3D environment is not here yet, and gadgets (not full computers, mind you) that read bar code are common-place for decades.

Hold your horses (1, Funny)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824085)

Please hold downloading the mpeg with the talk until I finish. I'll reply to this message when wget returns my prompt. Thanks.

Re:Hold your horses (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824104)

Actually that's a pretty damned impressive web server.

I'm downloading the video on a cable modem at a sustained 1.5MB/sec (bytes, not bits).

It seems unslashstoppable.

Yeah.. (1)

nnn0 (794348) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824095)

i remember those talks about putting stuff in the newspaper, but if i recall correctly, this wasn't limited to URLs, you could put whatever in there; images, ringtones, apps even :) it just depends on the size of the barcode.

Use this for payment/tickets (3, Interesting)

NusEnFleur (460584) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824106)

My colleague once wrote a prototype doing the same thing (barcode recognition). This is also a nice solution for building tickets. THe main advantage is that you can give the guy at the entrance just one phone and he'll be able to scan entry tickets without the need for a computer or heavy equipment.

We even have a video [link-u.com] showing this technology being used for payment. Note that in the video you see the recognition engine in java run on a PC with a webcam, but the same engine runs on many MIDP 2.0 phones (like a nokia 6230) and is also able to find a barcode instantly. In this case the phone is only used as a client for the payment concept.

Re:Use this for payment/tickets (2, Interesting)

josecanuc (91) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824427)

So are there any free to use (or even Open Source) software that does this on Windows or Linux? I would love to have some software that dumps out recognized barcodes (1-D or 2-D) from a live video source...

Business Card Scanner (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824135)

The LG V phone has a business card scanner built in. If you take a picture of a business card, it can then use OCR to identify the text and add it to your address book. It's not perfect, but it's still pretty impressive (and you can edit out the mistakes). That's got to be harder than merely interpreting a bar code.

Not unique (3, Informative)

csirac (574795) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824155)

I've seen some Japanese phones that have apparently had this ability for quite some time now, I was absolutely amazed when a friend showed me one that even OCR'd english text out of a snapshot!

And there's a company called Grabba [grabba.com] that makes commercial bar-code scanning solutions out of PDAs and PDA-phones (among other things). A friend of mine works there... interesting stuff; they also sell a dock thing that a PDA can clip into, which gives it a camera so you don't need to use a mobile phone. Popular with inventory/warehouse type applications, it also does 2D barcodes as well.

Re:Not unique (1)

skorch (906936) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824306)

I've seen some Japanese phones that have apparently had this ability for quite some time now, I was absolutely amazed when a friend showed me one that even OCR'd english text out of a snapshot! And there's a company called Grabba that makes commercial bar-code scanning solutions out of PDAs and PDA-phones (among other things). A friend of mine works there... interesting stuff; they also sell a dock thing that a PDA can clip into, which gives it a camera so you don't need to use a mobile phone. Popular with inventory/warehouse type applications, it also does 2D barcodes as well.
Yeah, I first heard about this technology already being in wide-spread use in Japan 3 years ago, so it's been in public use there for much longer than that. They have those 2D barcodes placed in all sorts of public spaces such as train stations, where people can scan useful information about the area right into their cellphones. So seeing as how I heard about this so many years ago, it must have been adopted enough years prior to that for it to have reached that level of saturation.

It's really quite embarrassing how far behind in cell-phone technology (among many other things at this point) the US is when we can hear about something like this and have absolutely no idea how old the tech is.

When barcodes came out ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824204)

100MHz CPUs, 1MB RAM, etc, were distant dreams. Sure they scanned with a scanner serially rather than doing image recognition, and I'm sure using unoptimised Java virtual machines probably makes the 100MHz CPU feel like a 10MHz CPU, but it's not an amazing thing surely? Especially if you make some assumptions, such as: (1) barcode should try and be as large as possible when taking the image. (2) barcode orientation is generally horizontal, rather than angles over, say, 30 degrees.

However ... this book next to me has a 2" barcode on it - an ISBN with an extension to the right. So we're talking around 150 dpi if the barcode filled the screen. Assuming that there was white area around it, then the barcode area might be, say, 120dpi. Looking at the barcode, it's 'minimum width bar' count is around 60 lines per inch. So given crap image capture I can imagine moire effects if the angle isn't as flat as possible, and even then the thinnest bar would be 2 pixels wide, followed by 2 pixels of white. Add in aliasing and smudging and it seems to be harder, but I'd be interested in trying to code such a thing.

Re:When barcodes came out ... (2, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824346)

Well, it is fairly impressive. J2ME is many things, but convenient and fast are not amongst them. Getting a Java phone to do anything useful at all is quite a feat of programming, getting one to recognise barcodes in realtime is damn near a miracle. Bear in mind the "virtual machine" on most phones is in fact simply a slow interpreter - it makes BASIC look souped-up.

Re:When barcodes came out ... (2, Informative)

ashirusnw (953396) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824731)

Bear in mind the "virtual machine" on most phones is in fact simply a slow interpreter - it makes BASIC look souped-up.

Presumably you're referring to the KVM (the J2ME JVM) which is slow. I think you're out of date.

AFAIK modern phones have Sun's CLDC HotSpot VM (the "CLDC HI VM") which has speeds equivilent in relative terms to a JVM on a desktop PC. The Blackberry phones in particular have a great JVM. When more phones have decent ARM-based gigahertz processors speed Java speed will stop being an issue much like the desktop space.

Re:When barcodes came out ... (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824921)

I know about the CLDC VM but if you look at model lists for the mobile phones that are actually on the market (in Europe at any rate), nearly all use the KVM. A few, like the newer Sony Ericssons, use Jazelle and they run acceptably fast but most are still KVM based even for the newer phones.

i don't know which phone they are using (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824274)

But I know 320*240 on a cellphone camera image was lame 3 years ago.

Re:i don't know which phone they are using (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824461)

Apparently the limitation isn't the camera - it's the Java API to the camera which limits image resolution, as does the amount of memory available on some phones. Apparently others have the same thing in a C++/Symbian environment, but this guy says his is the only one to work on a resource limited Java phones.

Re:i don't know which phone they are using (2, Insightful)

tsvk (624784) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824471)

Yes, the image resolution is low but you need to take into account that another spec mentioned is 1MB of Java heap memory. The captured images are stored in Java Image obejcts uncompressed. So the memory requirement for a QVGA (320x240) four-bytes-per-pixel RGBA image is 307,200 bytes, which will fit well within the 1MB of heap memory.

The phone camera will probably be able to capture images with a higher resolution (up to megapixels), but because of this Java heap memory limitation they probably need to limit themselves to QVGA resolution. And besides, if the image processing / recognition algorithms work sufficiently well with images of QVGA resolution, there is no need to use higher resolutions.

Re:i don't know which phone they are using (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825029)

Again, that number seems very low. My 'phone, which is almost a year old and wasn't even close to top of the range when I got it has 32MB of RAM free when running nothing other than the OS and the Java heap is only limited by the free RAM. 16MB is an easy minimum, since it also has a memory card slot for long-term storage.

WOW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824284)

Thats great! What a feat!
Especially considering a friend of mine did exactly this as his final year Engineering project 2 years ago. In South Africa... a 3rd world country...

Comparison Shopping (1)

shaneh0 (624603) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824287)

While I didn't RTFA, I'm surprised that this is being discussed like it's a newfangled idea. "See, we just put these parallel lines on things, and the spacing between the lines represents a number...."

We don't need to invent new things to add bar codes to. There are already dozens of ways to use this system if it could interface with existing bar codes. If i'm at Borders I'd love to scan a barcode on a book and bring up its reviews, If I have a UPS label I'd love to be able to scan the barcode to view its shipping info, etc.

I understand that this is much more then a bar code, it's also a database and lookup system. Not easy to build, but neither is a cellphone-based barcode scanner.

Impressive? These guys here do it real-time. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824357)

http://www.beetagg.com./ [www.beetagg.com] They got REAL-TIME 2d code detection, on wm5 and symbian (and treo650 seems to be coming soon) phones. Works on my Java phone (non-RT). Shame the Moto-Q is not on the list. Anybody care to test?

Nothing new (0, Redundant)

TheVoice900 (467327) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824360)

Phones here in Japan have had this technology for quite some time, using square bar codes that can encode way more information than the typical barcodes in North America. I can scan them with my phone and get a URL or other information...

Impressive? These guys here do it real-time. (1)

cputoaster (992488) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824404)

http://www.beetagg.com/ [beetagg.com] . On mobile phones, real-time, Symbian, Wm5, beta for treo650, J2ME (non-RT)... Shame the Moto-Q is not on the list. Anybody care to test it anyway?

10 year old POS? (1)

bombshelter13 (786671) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824406)

Can anyone tell me what the typical operating frequency for the chip handling barcode recognition on a typical decade old point of sale system would be? Not 100 mhz, surely?

Re:10 year old POS? (1)

minorproblem (891991) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824689)

I know a whole pile from the mid ninties used the motorola 68HC11 chips from memory they operate at about 14.1 Mhz with an 8 bit bus. I have one sitting on my desk at the moment actually =p

Re:10 year old POS? (1)

phasm42 (588479) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825181)

The trick is to read the barcode from an image, not from a scanning laser or other barcode reading hardware. That's what makes it interesting.

Been there, done that... (1)

hardaker (32597) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824453)

I'm actually fairly surprised the slashdot editors don't have a treo and follow palmgear or other palm development sites. There already is a bar code scanner you can get for free for your treo:

BarCode [palmgear.com]

Of course, quality isn't perfect but it does work. Mostly. Reads the barcode and copies the number stream results to your clipboard.

Mobot has been doing this professionally for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824478)

www.mobot.com

That's Pretty Neat (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824502)

Back in 1998ish I worked for a company that was heavily into inventory systems. We sold Intermec wireless bar code scanners as part of our overall solution. The scanner was essentially a tiny 386 machine running MS DOS in the form factor of bulky sci-fi ray gun. Even fired a laser out the end when you pulled the trigger. Ran about 3 grand for one of 'em. You might see similar devices in supermarkets these days.

A bar code reading cellphone, well I think our customers would have jumped at them. Even if the bar code reading software cost a grand, it'd still be cheaper than those devices we were selling.

These guys wrote their bar code software in Java. I'd be a bit interested to see how one coded in assembly would stack up against it...

Re:That's Pretty Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824767)

I too worked for a company that used Intermec janus hand scanners. Since it was a pain in the a$$ to debug code on them and we were using OS/2 I wrote an interpreter and debugger for it.

It is written for OS/2 but the C Source is included if you would like to compile it for another operating system.

Here is the link if you would like to try it out and run some of the code again.

http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/cgi-bin/h-viewer?sh=1&fname =/pub/os2/apps/emulator/os2irl.zip [nmsu.edu]

Nathan

Barcode recognition != image recognition (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824694)

This would be very impressive if they could actually process, identify and match non-contrived real world features (i.e. faces, text, people), but this is just barcodes. Barcodes are DESIGNED to be easily recognized and processed by computers and to be highly tolerant of noise and corruption. Sure, this sounds like a nifty app, but to call it image recognition is very misleading.

I don't think this is new.... unless in USA.. (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824696)

I think I read in late 2004 or early 2005 about this being available in Japan at or before the time I had read about it.

They even have pay-for-train-ticket and pay-for-groceries-and-other-things by cell.

While not light years ahead in all areas, Japan trounces the USA in some interesting and invisible ways. I had an analog TV phone (with FM radio, 1.2 megapixel camera, tweaking ability of the hundreds of polyphonics tunes inside, removable SD card, JP/Eng interface, memo, cal, many alarms, and more.) there for ONE PENNY (One YEN) because by Dec 04 it was "obsolete", yet where in the USA is an analog (meaning your viewing habits are NOT trackable) phone available for such a humane price?

Hell, many of the cell phones have PS2 console interfaces so up to 4 or more bored friends can hook up to a large flatscreen and play games designed for the phones.

I used to taunt the local (SF/SJ) cell stores with it, but Karma caught up with me and I ended up having to lose it. I was devastated.

See:

http://www.vodafone.jp/english/products/kisyu/v402 sh/index.html [vodafone.jp]

Other barcode representations for Mobiles (1)

tezza (539307) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825013)

For those interested you should check out http://www.shotcode.com/ [shotcode.com] . They do circular shaped codes which look more pleasant. Generation is free, they distribute a client, but you pay for code resolutions.

Just in case anyone needed to know....

T.

Why not offload it to distributed computing? (1)

Musashi Miyamoto (662091) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825426)

Why couldnt someone put together a distributed computing cluster for image processing/facial recognition/text recogntion processing? Then, you can make an app that sends the images from your cellphone/mobile device to the distributed cluster, and receive the processed data back?

Pretty soon, the bandwidth available to mobile devices and cellphones will be plenty for sending photos and other data across.
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