They’re calling it the bokode, and it’s the latest thing to be touted as the replacement for the black-and-white stripes of the familiar barcode.
Developed by MIT scientists and being shown off at the Siggraph conference, the bokode is just three millimeters in diameter, consisting of an LAD that’s covered by a mask and a lens. The information is encoded in the light that shines through the mask, and its brightness depends on the angle from which it’s viewed.
Dr Ankit Mohan, one of the MIT researchers behind the project, told BBC News:
"It is either bright or dark depending on how we want to encode the information."
The scientists claim that the bokodes can be read from 12 feet away with a regular mobile phone camera, and see a number of applications, from keeping track of things in factories to having nutritional information on food items in grocery stores, which could then be read by a consumer’s mobile phone. It could even be useful in libraries, noted Dr. Mohan:
"Let’s say you’re standing in a library with 20 shelves in front of you and thousands of books."
"You could take a picture and you’d immediately know where the book you’re looking for is."
The scientists even see a future for the bokode in motion capture for movies or video games.
The main drawback at present is that they’re very expensive to produce, around $5 each. However, if the technology were refined and the tags became passive, that would drastically reduce the cost, to around five cents each.
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