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Barcode Replacement Shown Off

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Bokodes are smaller than traditional bar codes.

Credit: MIT Media Lab

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed Bokodes, a new barcode format that could replace the current barcodes used on retail products. Bokodes are 3-mm-diameter powered tags capable of containing thousands of times more information than striped barcodes, and can be read by a standard mobile phone camera.

Bokodes, which will be displayed at ACM's SIGGRAPH 2009 conference, consist of a light-emitting diode covered by a tiny mask and lens. Information is encoded in the light shining through the mask. The light is seen with different levels of brightness depending on the angle from which it is viewed and how the information is encoded. The researchers say that Bokodes have several advantages over traditional barcodes, including the fact that the tags are smaller, can be read from different angles, and can be read from far away using a standard mobile phone camera, up to a distance of 60 feet.

Initially, Bokodes may be used in factories or industrial settings to track objects. However, eventually they could be used in consumer applications, such as supermarkets, where products could be researched using a mobile phone. A shopper could take a picture of a product and receive pricing and nutritional information. The tags currently cost about $5 each, but the researchers believe the technology could be refined so the tags are reflective and do not require any power, which would lower the cost to about five cents each.

View a video about Bokode tags by MIT Media Lab.

From BBC News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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