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Microsoft Finds a Home For Barcode

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the color-cuecat dept.

Microsoft 141

MicroBarcode writes in about the color barcode technology that Microsoft developed but shelved two years back because nobody adopted it. The technology promised a way to link packaging to Web sites — and once cell phone cameras get good enough, Microsoft hoped lots of people would use it. It seems the technology has finally found a home: the ISAN International Agency has inked a deal with Microsoft. The color barcodes, consisting of red, green, yellow, and black triangles, will appear on XBox 360 games and other products beginning later this year.

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141 comments

Why? (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825805)

Once the group starts issuing the barcodes, studios and producers will be able to link their Web sites to that database. One day, consumers might use a digital camera to "scan" barcodes on DVD cases, in advertisements and on billboards, then be transported to a Web page to watch trailers or buy products.

So, what you're telling us is that this is nothing but a pointless technology and that it would be much easier just to post a URL?

I have a to take a picture, possibly be charged depending on my mobile plan and if I choose that route, and then be tracked by Microsoft and the end company and then go to a website that would have been easier to just type in?

Right. Dumb.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825825)

They could probably encode a URL in a small enough 2D barcode, or failing that a 1D barcode with used as an index into a table.

Or failing that, just put the URL on the damn box.

Of course this is MSFT so using sensible existing methods is directly out of the question.

Tom

Re:revival of the cuecat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18825857)

Didn't someone already try this type of marketing? The cuecat comes to mind. People did a to of things with them... everything but use them for their intended purpose.

Re:revival of the cuecat? (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825867)

The CueCat was a piece of free hardware that was hacked. This wouldn't require the passing out of any hardware that could be taken advantage of.

Re:revival of the cuecat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18825921)

The CueCat was a piece of free hardware that was hacked.

Yes. But the problem (for CueCat) wasn't that it was hacked. It was that nobody wanted to use it for the intended purpose. If they had then the fact that they were also using it for other purposes wouldn't have been an issue. The whole concept was a stunningly bad idea.

I don't think there's even a name for the mental disease that someone would have to be suffering from in order to want to use this. And the reason there's no name for that disease is that nobody has ever had it.

Re:revival of the cuecat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826027)

A hockey stick maker doesn't care if you burn their hockey sticks to heat your house instead of using them for their intended purpose. Getting people to use your product for its intended purpose is only important if:
1. you are selling your product at a loss, and
2. you make money only if people use it for its intended purpose.
As far as I can tell this is not the case here. Microsoft is just licensing its technology to companies.

Re:Why? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18825911)

The idea is that with the right technological support, this can be easier than to just type in.

Of course OCRing human readable data would be an even better solution.

Don't be an idiot. (3, Insightful)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826011)

You're anti-MS zealotry is clouding your mind.

Look. It's just like the QR Codes in Japan. What makes them so special is that you can encode much, much more data into them than a typical barcode (the blac&white QR codes can hold about 3KB, I assume this color version can do better). This lets you encode a ton more data about a product than w/ a typical barcode.

Basically it holds all of the promise of RFID with none of the scary privacy issues. But this is slashdot, so I realize I must spin this as evil. DIE MICROSOFT DIE! There, happy?

Re:Don't be an idiot. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826087)

I'm not anti-Microsoft. I'm anti-pointless. This *is* pointless and you can take your pointless post and stick it up your Microsoft loving ass.

Douchebag.

Re:Don't be an idiot. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826333)

You're the douche, douche.

DID U C WUT I DID THAR?

Microsoft embracing and extending standards again (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826387)

What makes them so special is that you can encode much, much more data into them than a typical barcode (the blac&white QR codes can hold about 3KB, I assume this color version can do better). This lets you encode a ton more data about a product than w/ a typical barcode


Not unless by "a ton" you mean twice as much, it's four colors instead of two. At the cost of a totally incompatible system.


We have had labels with two-dimensional scan codes for years. These can be printed in any laser printer and scanned in a monochrome scanner. Software for those is everywhere it's needed, inventory systems have it, point-of-sale systems have it.


Why replace something that has been working fine? It's that old Microsoft tactic of inventing a new "standard" way of doing things and pushing its monopolistic muscle to squeeze other companies out of the business.

Re:Microsoft embracing and extending standards aga (1)

Conright (879793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826701)

Um, Having 4 colors instead of 2 doesn't mean just "double" the storage.

If you were to make 5 old-style two-color lines, you have a possible of 2^5 = 32 possible combinations.
If you were to make 5 new-style four-color lines, you have a possible of 4^5 = 1024 possible combinations.

So...I'm sorry, try again.

Re:Microsoft embracing and extending standards aga (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826801)

Ok, so you went from 5 bits of storage to 10. Explain again how that's not double the information content?

Re:Microsoft embracing and extending standards aga (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826847)

If you were to make 5 old-style two-color lines, you have a possible of 2^5 = 32 possible combinations.
If you were to make 5 new-style four-color lines, you have a possible of 4^5 = 1024 possible combinations.

If you were to make 10 old-style two-color lines, you have a possible of 2^10 = 1024 possible combinations.
If you were to make 5 new-style four-color lines, you have a possible of 4^5 = 1024 possible combinations.


There, 5 * 2 = 10, to have the same amount of data stored you need twice as many dots with black and white as you need with color. Is that clear now?

Re:Microsoft embracing and extending standards aga (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827093)

You are correct on a single dimensional array. However in this case it is a 2 dimensional array. Therefore both the length and the height must be doubled. which results in 1/4 of a monochromatic array.

Re:Microsoft embracing and extending standards aga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18827205)

If you double both the height and the length of an array you get four times as many dots. To double the size of an array you double either the length or the height, not both at the same time.

Re:Microsoft embracing and extending standards aga (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827161)

Space is hardly a issue on DVD boxes.

Re:Microsoft embracing and extending standards aga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826735)

Not unless by "a ton" you mean twice as much, it's four colors instead of two.

Wow. I am going to be nice and assume that fundamental ignorance (rather than a rabid
MS-bashing tendency) has led to this laughably absurd conclusion. Time to brush up on
combinatorics.

Given an alphabet-set of size n, there are n^k possible words of length k that can
be made comprising of letters from the alphabet-set. Try it.

Also, observe that adding a new color increases your alphabet size by another n.

Finally, note that (4n)^k is rarely "twice as much" as (2n)^k.

Re:Microsoft embracing and extending standards aga (0)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827145)

I am going to be nice and assume that fundamental ignorance has led to this laughably absurd conclusion


I have already answered to the poster above who had some trouble in understanding that doubling the number of bits doubles the amount of information.


However, since you are so honest in confessing your fundamental ignorance, I will give you a link to a paper [bell-labs.com] published by Claude Shannon [wikipedia.org] in 1948 which can make it clearer for you.


Shannon argues that the true measure of information should be done in logarithms, because "It is practically more useful. Parameters of engineering importance such as time, bandwidth, number of relays, etc., tend to vary linearly with the logarithm of the number of possibilities. For example, adding one relay to a group doubles the number of possible states of the relays. It adds 1 to the base 2 logarithm of this number. Doubling the time roughly squares the number of possible messages, or doubles the logarithm, etc."


And you can be thankful that engineers use logarithms. If your phone company used "combinatorics" they would charge you four times as much for having two phones installed at your home than what they charge for a single phone.

Re:Don't be an idiot. (2, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826457)

Basically it holds all of the promise of RFID with none of the scary privacy issues. But this is slashdot, so I realize I must spin this as evil. DIE MICROSOFT DIE! There, happy?

My comment has nothing to do with anti-Microsoft sentiment (hell, I run Windows and use Office, *gasp*!) this has to do with me finding that the application is fucking pointless as described in the article.

I'm supposed to take a digital image of something and then scan it later to get to a website because of a billboard ad? Please.

Great New Invention! (5, Interesting)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826577)

I take pictures of the "now playing" line on our music server for future reference. It's not really any different than that.

Entering text on a cell phone is a real pain in the ass and it's often the only device I have around me capable of recording data while 'out on the town'

Take for instance google maps. I'll often take a photo of a google map before driving just so that I can look at it later on my cell phone. Much cheaper than GPS. Imagine if you will if Google Maps could encode all of your driving directions into a little 2"x2" square barcode on your screen. Then you just snap a picture with your cell phone. The Cell Phone includes a text decoder which then decodes the driving directions for when you need them later.

Let's say you're in frys and you see a new 500 GB HDD for $220. Now you start thinking to yourself... "Is this a good deal?" but you can't remember what the going rate is. No problem you snap a photo of the barcode and you've already set up an association with product names and your favorite price grabber search engine and presto there it is on New Egg for $180 shipped.

Let's say you're in a big city and you're lost. No problem! Just snap a photo of the nearest street sign's colorful barcode and presto google maps (your chosen default map service) locates where you are. You already while at home scanned the barcode for the address of your hotel and google gives you new directions from where you are.

The problem with cuecat was that all it did was awkwardly enter URLs onto your PC. When you're on your PC there is no need for barcode scanners you already have an amazing data entry tool... your keyboard! Cellphones have no easy way to enter in a lot of information.

I doubt microsoft's lone solution will be the only survivor, but who cares! With a camera based system, you can have hundreds of competing formats on your cell phone. But the better compressed the data, the more likely it is to catch on because the more information it can convey.

I for one welcome our new barcode speaking overloads.

Re:Great New Invention! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826599)

I guess because I own a mobile device I don't think much about this kind of shit. People who still use 9-key are retarded.

Re:Great New Invention! (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826929)

Cell phone cameras today are already high enough resolution to read regular barcodes. UPCs are, well, universal, as their acronym indicates. You could do all your product tie-ins with the UPC. This Microsoft technology sounds too much like a solution in search of a problem.

Re:Great New Invention! (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827001)

Regular barcodes can only carry a few bytes of data. The advantage of a compressed machine readable symbol which could hold a dozen kilobytes of data is a very useful solution to many data entry problems. No need for RFID or bluetooth integration. Just print on a symbol, no power required and stick it anywhere. I really like the idea of putting barcodes on every street corner I would find this invauable while travelling in a city I don't know.

Re:Great New Invention! (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827135)

My point is if you're using these codes to look stuff up online, a few bytes is all you need. IPv4 addresses are only 4 bytes. UPCs are 12 decimal digits (though one of those is a check digit). Even w/ the check digit, the UPCs offer about 20x as many codes as IPv4 offers IP addresses. That's more than enough tags to index anything you might want to index. You don't even need to be hooked up to the Internet. POS machines typically aren't and they handle UPCs just fine. Product serial numbers can be handled in a similar manner.

Now, if you want to package a manifest with a product that can be read in isolation, that's a different story. Most people are talking about :CueCat type uses though. I'm not entirely sure I buy into the usefulness of "read in isolation." If you have a cell phone camera, you have a cell phone and you're not in isolation unless you don't get signal.

--Joe

Re:Great New Invention! (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827549)

Or they could just set up a site where you type in actual barcode, or use the built in scanner on your cell phone to go to that url. Just make http://www.barcodedatabase.com/XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX [barcodedatabase.com] go to the product information page.

Re:Great New Invention! (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827661)

There's already a site like that. [google.com] I tried a couple UPCs and Google found them...

--Joe

Re:Don't be an idiot. (1)

SnprBoB86 (576143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826911)

"Basically it holds all of the promise of RFID with none of the scary privacy issues."

Not even close. These color bar codes are still bar codes. GUIDs are 128 bits. If a black and white bar code can hold 3KB, as you said, then you could easily fit a few GUIDs in there. RFIDs are typically just GUIDs which reference a database. There is no reason why a black and white bar code can't include a server URL and an item GUID to effectively store infinate data.

The promise of RFID comes from its no-contact nature.

These color bar codes are just a silly unecessary step between black and white bar codes and RFID tags. I can't imagine why Microsoft even spent a penny on their development.

btw: I work for Microsoft.

Re:Don't be an idiot. (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827927)

Why would M$ spend money on this tech, it is the inevitable pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A licence fee on every product sold, the billy goat just couldn't resist the idea not matter how delusional it is.

Re:Don't be an idiot. (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827707)

This isn't just MS hate here. The tech is pretty on paper, but will end up failing in practice. B&W bar codes are far more fault tolerant than color barcodes. Especially in low light conditions. All the software has to worry about is as to if it's seeing a monochrome black, or white. Throwing colors into the mix doesn't work nearly as well. Just look at how well color barcodes have suceeded. They've existed nearly as long as 1D barcodes, but just don't work well in practice. Hell, 2D B&W barcodes have enough problems in practice, and have to be quite larger generally or they often can't be read without special equipment.

Privacy issues? (1)

VanessaE (970834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827765)

Let's see...


Cellphone: check
Cell carrier that cares little for privacy: check
Barcode by Microsoft: check
Connects to a website: check

'nuff said?

Re:Why? (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826031)

"(...)and then go to a website that would have been easier to just type in?"

You forgot to add

"...and then go to a website to see an advertisement I'd block anyway..."

Re:Why? (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826367)

The technology promised a way to link packaging to Web sites -- and once cell phone cameras get good enough
I've seen this in Japan for years. Ads in magazines and elsewhere have little square bar codes like American UPS packages. Take a picture of them with your cell phone and it pops up some content on your screen.

Good to see Microsoft "innovating" once again.

I once worked for a company that sank millions into the CueCat [wikipedia.org] . This seems like the same thing, only with a cell phone instead of a plastic cat. I wonder if it will meet the same fate.

Not a UPC replacement (4, Informative)

satellitenoise (1060984) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826421)

There's also an article about this over on BBC News with more information: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6570871.stm [bbc.co.uk] It appears it's not an attempt to replace the traditional UPC barcode.

From the article:
Gavin Jancke, the Microsoft Research engineering director who developed the so-called High Capacity Color Barcode (HCCB), said the aim was not to replace the current barcode system, called UPC. "It's more of a 'partner' barcode," he said. "The UPC barcodes will always be there. Ours is more of a niche barcode where you want to put a lot of information in a small space."

Of course, since this is /. we should all assume that the new barcode is just another phase of Microsoft's Plan of World Domination, right?

Another Potential Exploit... (2, Funny)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826445)

1. Create picture with a barcode URL to a malware site
2. Post on flickr, youtube, et al
3. Wait for someone wearing glasses to visit the image
4. Let MS's automagical software see the barcode in the reflection in the user's glasses via the PC's
5. .........
6. Profit.

This is the visual equivalent of the exploit that uses an audiofile to tell the voice recognition software to do things.

Re:Why? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826469)

"I have a to take a picture, possibly be charged depending on my mobile plan and if I choose that route, and then be tracked by Microsoft and the end company and then go to a website that would have been easier to just type in?"

I went digital camera shopping not too long ago. Wasn't really planning on it, I was at Best Buy and saw some interesting cameras. I ended up pulling out my phone and taking photos of the little placards they have on them with the model number and price, then I went back home and looked them up. If I could have taken photos of the barcodes and had the phone or computer go find the pages, it would have simplified things a lot. And, no, it wouldn't have cost me any money extra.

Not the greatest feature ever, but I wouldn't label it as 'dumb'.

Re:Why? (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826743)

But these codes probably would have taken you to the manufacturer's site, full of marketing hype and lies. You'd then have to copy/paste the model number into google to find the results (I assume) you actually wanted anyway.

Where products are concerned, where the seller/manufacturer wants me to go is the last place I want to go to get more info.

Re:Why? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826889)

"But these codes probably would have taken you to the manufacturer's site, full of marketing hype and lies."

They can't lie about specifications. If the specs are interesting, then I can find my way to reviews. Very simple and convenient.

Re:Why? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827579)

They can't lie, but they can stretch the truth. I know a guy who got a Sony cellphone with a 2 Megapixel camera. But the problem was that the images that it saved were so overcompressed that they looked worse than what you could do with the old 1-megapixel-save-to-a-floppy-disk cameras that they had 10 years ago. So while you can't lie about specs, they don't really have to tell you everything about the product.

Re:Why? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827735)

"But the problem was that the images that it saved were so overcompressed that they looked worse than what you could do with the old 1-megapixel-save-to-a-floppy-disk cameras that they had 10 years ago. So while you can't lie about specs, they don't really have to tell you everything about the product."

Right. But if I'm looking for a camera that uses a particular type of memory or comes with a rechargable battery... well now I'm curious how they'd lie about that. Heh.

Seriously, gimme a little credit, will ya?

Re:Why? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826919)

They will be useful for those game developers who completely fill a DVD-9, and still need a few hundred more bytes.

The same kind of developers who regularly run out of gas 25 cm from the tank, wishing they had some kind of auxiliary tank with an additional .8 miliounces to get them the rest of the way.

Re:Why? (1)

3choTh1s (972379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827111)

I have a to take a picture, possibly be charged depending on my mobile plan and if I choose that route, and then be tracked by Microsoft and the end company and then go to a website that would have been easier to just type in? Right. Dumb.
HAHAHAHA. Easier to type in? Are you serious? Have you ever seen some of the urls required to get to some of the product websites available? I see it from anywhere in the range of 15-50 characters (if you're lucky). I'm one of the current people who do look up info on my phone but seriously, it's not easy. One wrong key and you're screwed. First you go to no where and trying to correct the url yourself is a nightmare on a normal phone keypad. Anything that helps remove this limitation is a god send. And since there is more and more camera phones in circulation, and people know how to use a camera as opposed to entering urls, I can only see this as a very good thing.

For 5 extra dollars on my current plan gives me 400 text/multimedia messages. Per month. I think that's worth being able to the ease of use of taking a picture getting my info in reasonable time. And as far as tracking goes I don't care if they see that I want to see what actors are in se7en. But say I didn't want them to know that I eat Ruffles, I don't have to use the system all the time. I can just search like normal without their service. No problem. Please stop the anti-MS rhetoric.

Did they patent it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18825829)

I'd hate for random imagery to infringe... and a great Photoshop competition was born.

Bonus points if your entry features Steve Ballmer and an Aeron.

I've seen this before.... (5, Funny)

waterford0069 (580760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825845)

It was called the "CueCat" [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I've seen this before.... (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826051)

In their defense, at least Microsoft seems to be doing something to place this on computer games and other related products, instead of just expecting to put it on Random Stuff like I seem to understand the CueCat hoped for. Give them a half-ounce of credit where it's due, hmm?

CueCat (4, Insightful)

BigDumbAnimal (532071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825863)

Sounds exactly like the CueCat. [zdnet.com]

Which, of course, sucked. One article about it from several years ago said something like:

"It fails to solve a problem that doesn't exist."

Re:CueCat (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826007)

Guess you didn't notice this was posted from the "color-cuecat" department.

Re:CueCat (1)

Dark_Gravity (872049) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826157)

Sounds exactly like the CueCat.

Which, of course, sucked.

The Cue Cat [cuecat.com] does make a great barcode reader [accipiter.org] for cheap.

Re:CueCat (1)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826533)

Actually, it makes a crappy barcode reader for cheap.

Re:CueCat (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827819)

Sounds exactly like the CueCat.

Except for one tiny detail -- no CueCat. The ubiquity of personal cameras in modern society is what is making this feasible. Whether through MS or some other implementation, it's bound to happen eventually because it will enable advertisers to directly measure the effectiveness of individual print ads.

One useful idea (5, Funny)

Viraptor (898832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825865)

Only place where I see this applicable is: - take picture of a movie box in shop - upload tag to torrent search site - download results - profit! No need for ... even.

Re:One useful idea (4, Funny)

Viraptor (898832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825881)

Oh yeah...
- check preview before posting
- ...
- profit

Bill Gates and (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18825869)

Microsoft may have invented the Internet and the computer, but sometimes they do some really stupid shit.

Re:Bill Gates and (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825885)

Invented what?!?

I hope you were just being sarcastic...

Re:Bill Gates and (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826003)

I hope you were just being sarcastic...

Well Duh! Obviously I know they couldn't really have invented the computer. They must have copied it off of Apple.

Mod insightful (0, Offtopic)

Zweideutig (900045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826005)

*whoosh*

Re:Bill Gates and (1)

RealSurreal (620564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826129)

Thank you Ted, that was the joke.

QR codes (5, Interesting)

Esine (809139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825889)

They already have this in Japan. Just take a picture of the QR code with your cell phone camera and you'll get all sorts of info about the product. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code [wikipedia.org]

-- dbg

Re:QR codes (2, Informative)

Hellbuny (444564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826059)

The tech for em in Japan is widely accepted and used enough that during Tokyo Game Show, my G/F spotted temporary tattoo versions of them that the booth babes were allowing people to take pics of. Sure enough lead to a website geared for phone use and was all in all pretty spiffy

Re:QR codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18827041)

What's on the site? More pictures of the booth babes? Or something boring about games?

Re:QR codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826079)

These are color, not B&W, and they look a heck of a lot better than QR. They also don't have those positional markers. Much nicer.

Re:QR codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826653)

These are color, not B&W, and they look a heck of a lot better than QR. They also don't have those positional markers. Much nicer.

Adding color to a QR Code is innovation? They don't look a whole lot better either and force people to buy better printers.

They also have the positional markers they are just harder to see.

Re:QR codes (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826155)

Mod parent up plz!

I kept seeing those when I traveled to the near future, aka "Japan". Microsoft's solution requires a 4 colour printer, this one is monochromatic... why am I not surprised that Microsoft is pushing their own bloated implementation of an already popular technology through "undisclosed financial terms"?

Re:QR codes (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826503)

That could be cool if I can find out info *I* want and not just company sponsored ads. Like whether or not the product sucks. Like everything, the usefulness depends on who is pulling the strings.

Better implementation: SemaCode (5, Informative)

The Media Mechanic (1084283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825891)

A better implementation exists, one that is not controlled by a convicted illegal monopolist: Semacode.

It uses Datamatrix 2-D (monochrome) barcodes to encode URLs on paper billboards and flyers, and has scanner implementations for many cellphones w/ built-in cameras.

In a prototypical application, a typical college student sees an advertisement attached to a bulletin board, for a local concert of Local Rock Band XYZ. There is a semacode symbol on the poster. He or she, uses cell phone to take a picture of the link, which automatically launches the cell's built in web browser to that URL (saving much tedious thumb-typing), and purchases concert tickets instantaneously.

http://semacode.org/ [semacode.org]

Re:Better implementation: SemaCode (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825977)

let's see here $1.00 to process the image remotely because no cell phone can, $1.00 data charge for access the website to buy tickets from, $5.00 random extra charge because your using cingular's/Verizon's/sprints special web buy service, another $1.00 worth of data rate charges because you entered your credit card wrong.

In the end I don't friggin think so. Cool concept, but every company has to get their piece of the pie, and it needs to be bigger than everyone else's piece too.

Thus a good idea fails miserably.

shouldn't it be trianglecode? (1)

nolesrule (152898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825897)

The color barcodes, consisting of red, green, yellow, and black triangles

How exactly is this a barcode if it's not made up of bars?

Re:shouldn't it be trianglecode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826021)

The triangles are made up of bars.

Re:shouldn't it be trianglecode? (1)

caffiend666 (598633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826067)

You have to view it at an angle like a laser. Then everything becomes bars. View it from a triangle and everything becomes even better.

Re:shouldn't it be trianglecode? (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826099)

Now that natural language is unstructured text you should not sense semantics with wetware. CC.

Cool and Useful (1)

Zashi (992673) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825907)

I'm no fan of Microsoft, but this actually sounds fairly cool and useful, assuming they don't destroy it with licensing and royalties. The standard barcode system has been around for a long time and some improvements could be made. I am more comfortable with barcodes with denser information than RFID tags. This could be particularly useful for libraries, most of which depend on standard barcodes for cataloging books--more information could be stored actually on the book's barcode rather than relying on big databases.

Re:Cool and Useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826037)

Having the database is the whole point. If all the information was stored on the barcodes with no database, how would you search for the book you wanted? Would you have to walk through and scan every single book? You need the full database to do all the searches you want (by title, author, call number, date of publication, etc.)

Re:Cool and Useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826159)

The mark of the beast might be considered "cool and useful" when it arrives too. Ease of police identification of people, ease of identifying of customers by bars and other places of business, make it easier for parents to locate their kids and find out who they are with, fraternity tracking of the females on campus, sorority tracking of the males, and the list goes on. Any of these involve databases and even some private ones. Now imagine what happens when some dad cracks one of those fraternity databases and reads the review on his daughter's proclivities and skillset? Maybe he don't even have to crack it, it might be his old fraternity.

Honestly, how long before the UK adds such technology to their camera systems and orders that people be marked for ease of identification purpose and the technology spreads? Maybe the Native Americans and others who objected to being photographed as it could "steal their souls" might not have been so far off, after all it could be a racial memory of previous use of similar technology. No tool is inherently bad but any can be put to a bad use. However I do not believe that installing cameras everywhere is what Jefferson would tolerate in his statement "The price of freedom, is eternal vigilance." Even actors and actresses don't want to be on camera all the time.

Feel free to mod me offtopic, if they aren't reading at -1 they are not the vigilant type anyway and this comment would likely be wasted on them.

Mark of the Beast, patent pending (3, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18825963)

Sure, we all say Bill Gates is the Antichrist, but I never thought it was true until now!

Too bad (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18825987)

I won't succeed simply because they look like shit [com.com] . Maybe if they used blue instead of puke yellow then the symbol would look more nifty. Now those monochrome semacodes discussed above, I've seen those on packages before, and those have style!

Re:Too bad (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826181)

Too bad your criticism (as usual) is totally unwarranted. The colors can vary based on the packaging.

Monochrome looks better? Idiot, go back to watching B&W television.

you want a beautiful barcode? (1)

jab (9153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826917)

DataGlyph [dataglyphs.com] is specifically designed to be both machine readable and look good to people.

I've seen it working, it's decent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826029)

And it's pretty decent. It is basically an enhanced barcode with more possibilities so that more data can be encoded. Any color scanner could be useful to read it. I am reminded of the scatterbox UPS block barcodes that do something similar but in a different way.

Don't crap all over Microsoft for inventing something cool, this could replace traditional barcodes at some point.

Re:I've seen it working, it's decent (1)

present_arms (848116) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826089)

Don't crap all over Microsoft for inventing something cool, this could replace traditional barcodes at some point.
and you made that sound like it's a good thing

Re:I've seen it working, it's decent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826233)

"Don't crap all over Microsoft for inventing something cool, this could replace traditional barcodes at some point."

Around here, Microsoft = toilet, so crapping on them is the appropriate thing to do.

Re:I've seen it working, it's decent (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826345)

So it uses color. Big deal.

What more needs to be coded beyond a product code (hint: UPC)?

I'll bet you have to make the "pixels" larger than ordinary barcodes, due to the use of color and the unusual shape. If you assume that each "pixel" is worth one bit, then you only need two (4 values) or three (8 values) black pixels to hold the same number of values as one color "pixel". If the color pixels have to be twice as big in both dimensions, then they will require more space than ordinary black ones.

Then you have to worry about fading. Color dyes fade much faster than black ones, so don't leave your posters out in the sun for very long.

Just using the UPC number, you could tie it to a web site easily: something like http://upcdatabase.com/ [upcdatabase.com] which could then re-direct as needed.

Delicious Library - Nothing new required (1)

Foerstner (931398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826247)

http://www.delicious-monster.com/ [delicious-monster.com]

It uses the webcam build into new Macs, or a third-party firewire camera, to scan barcodes and index books and DVDs and such. It pulls the data from Amazon or another web source.

No laser scanner needed, no special barcodes required.

This brings back problems (3, Insightful)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826273)

In the early days, UPC code readers were really touchy and items often had to be held just so to be read correctly. Even with this problem worked out, the UPC code still has to be found and brought over the scanner. This and the fact that there's no maximum line height allow a neat hack. At discount markets like Aldi and Lidl which contract with suppliers, bar code are often required to run the entire length of the package so that no matter how the check-out girl holds the item, it'll scan. Checkout is noticeably faster. This colour coded triangle system moots this.


While there are markers so that the orientation can be determined by scanners, there's no way to extend this encoding along the length of a package in any relatively inconspicuous manner the way that ISO/IEC 15416 codes do. This is the same problem which has prevented mass adoption of the Datamatrix 2D code outside of specific areas such as postage and shipping which simply needed to include the additional data required.

This is an interesting system and even more capable than Datamatrix and ShotCode of encoding a lot of information in a limited area. Unfortunately it suffers not only from requiring higher printing specs for those who use it (reflectance is of utmost importance; see here [barcode-us.com] ) but also from a return to a less usable system in key areas. This is for retail packaging but it will slow (or prevent speeding up of) standard, real-life usage.

Yes, it would be possible to place multiple copies of the code along the length of some item, but the colour factor as well as the required resolution don't allow for interruptions and additional area uses that the current lengthwise 1D barcodes do.

Colored shapes? (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826277)

The color bar codes, consisting of red, green, yellow, and black triangles, will appear on XBox 360 games and other products beginning later this year.
I think they've been examining the DualShock controller a bit too closely.

http://www.johnlewis.com/jl_assets/product/2301532 68.jpg [johnlewis.com]

CMYK? (1)

nbritton (823086) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826389)

red, green, yellow, and black triangles
WTF? Just use CMYK. It costs more money to print red and green.

Re:CMYK? (1)

jam244 (701505) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826879)

WTF? Just use CMYK. It costs more money to print red and green.
Only on CMYK printers. A large portion of professional printing uses spot color [wikipedia.org] , where each individual color's ink is premixed and applied in separate passes.

Often you'll use process color and spot color on the same target. Look near the bottom of a pack of Doritos or the like, and you'll typically see cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and some other custom colors that are used to increase vibrancy and sometimes even reduce cost.

Re:CMYK? (1)

dreamlax (981973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827349)

No no, you're not following. When we pirate the games using inkjet printable media, we want to reduce costs to maximise profits.

Re:CMYK? (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827771)

Yes it reduces cost when you need less than FOUR colors. Any other time it increases cost. Only time more than 4 makes sense is when you want your product to look it's best, and you better have massive volume of Doritos to make this worth while.

Oblig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18826393)

I, for one, don't welcome our new color-coded overlords.

But I would welcome a law that mandates that the first link for each scan be non-commercial in nature (a Wiki article on the subject, a Consumer Reports (or Which?) article on it, etc.).

MS color-code vs monochrome 2-d barcode (2, Funny)

luckystuff (836232) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826397)

I for one hope they don't adopt MS's color-coded triangles. I don't care how much more data it can encode. It'll still be worthless to me since those of us that are color-blind can't read it.

Re:MS color-code vs monochrome 2-d barcode (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826449)

You can read barcodes! Cool!

Re:MS color-code vs monochrome 2-d barcode (1)

figleaf (672550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826901)

I have read some pretty dumb comments on slashdot but this one takes the cake.
He he.

Cell Phone Camera Resolution (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826479)

I'm not sure what they're talking about in relation to cell phone camera resolution being insufficient currently. I just took a picture from one of the links provided and it was more 'readable' on my cell phone than the black and white 2d matrix. Especially at 320x240.

Perhaps it's the processors that are still lacking.

How? (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826853)

Microsoft can do all the printing they want, but the retailers point-of-sale and logistics systems actually would need to adopt this.

In the POS software market, that smells like a current-version-+1 feature

Why? Better Tracking (1)

tentac1e (62936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18826903)

When you see an infomercial on TV, that phone number they display is different from region to region. By segmenting the data by region, the company knows where ads perform better, and they can pump for dollars buying airtime in that region.

It's harder with the web. You can't tell someone to visit www.acmewidgets.com/detroit, because nobody bothers with anything after the .com. The only trick is to create clever variations, like saveonwidgets.com, yeswidgets.com, buywidgets.com, etc.

This technology offers few advantages to consumers, but huge advantages to companies tracking ROI.

It would be really cool... (1)

thegsusfreek (769912) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827127)

if they could use color bar codes to store actual HTML code. You could scan it into your cellphone or other device and it would create a webpage from the bar code without connecting to the internet.

Then, of course, you'd have to worry about viruses. Hackers could go into stores and stick a custom-made bar code on top of the original so Grandmas would unknowingly get their phone zombified and connected to a global cellphone bot-net and their phones will start making random calls to random phones on the other side of the world...

never mind.

Another M$ method to avoid royalty payments (1)

FredThompson (183335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827185)

What benefit does this have to anyone other than Microsoft's avoiding yet more royalty payments?

None.

Information (1)

Repton (60818) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827369)

The BBC article [bbc.co.uk] reports that the colour barcodes can encode up to "3500 characters" worth of information. They also include a screenshot. The screenshot has 11 rows of 24 triangles. Each triangle is one of four colours. So that gives you 2 bits per triangle, 264 triangles, for 528 bits of information in total.

Anyone know where the BBC got the "3500 characters" line from?

leave it to MS... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827451)

to take an existing technology that worked perfectly well, and release it's own propritary version which is complicated and no one wants or needs.

Benefit over QR? (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#18827489)

Can anyone explain to me what benefits this has over QR codes, which are already widely deployed in Japan and free for anyone to use (the patent on them is for public use by the holder) ??

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