Overheard: Word of the Day

Aug 25 2009   12:40PM GMT

Bokode – replacing barcode and RFID?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

MIT scientists have devised a new coding standard that can be read from digital cameras, and will be used in everything from augmented reality to motion capture.

Rather than being a simple flat image, like a barcode or a QR code, Bokode uses a light beam, whose brightness and angle are encoded with information. The tag itself is tiny–about the size of the @ symbol in a keyboard. But it contains thousands of bits of data.

Cliff Kuang, MIT’s Bokode: A Tiny Barcode Replacement That’s Chockablock With Data

Guess we need to add definitions for Bokode and QR code.

A QR code (quick response code) is a two-dimensional bar code. In Japan, QR codes have become more popular than barcodes. A typical barcode can hold a maximum of 20 digits.  A QR code can hold up to 7,089 characters. How? Well,  barcodes can only span horizontally.  QR codes can span horizontally and vertically.

Bokodes take the concept a step further.

According to Quinn Smithwick at MIT, the current version of bokode tech uses a 2D data matrix with Reed Solomon error correction and can hold megabits of information.  Bokodes are going to be perfect for augmented reality.

Imagine going to the opera and looking through your cell phone’s camera at a specific character on stage. Now imagine that character has a bokode beauty mark on her face and when you aim your camera at her face, you can not only find out who that character is, but you can read an entire snyopsis that tells you all about the character and how she fits into the plot. You can even get a bio of the person playing her.

Now imagine doing the same thing when you’re shopping. There might be a bokode on the store’s welcome sign, telling you what’s on sale.  There might be a bokode on the sales tag for the jacket you’re looking at, telling you through your camera’s viewfinder what the jacket is made of, where it was made, how much it costs and how to clean it.  In the shoe department, that bokode on the bottom of the shoe you want to try on will tell you if the store has it available in your size.

Will all that hoo-ha about RFID tags on consumer goods being too intrusive will fade away? From what I’m learning about bokodes, the answer just might be “yes.”

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