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Cellphones Microsoft Software

Microsoft Tag, Smartphone-Scannable Barcodes 258

Posted by kdawson
from the cue-cat-lives dept.
dhavleak writes "Microsoft Research has come up with Microsoft Tag: '...just aim your camera phone at a Tag and instantly access mobile content, videos, music, contact information, maps, social networks, promotions, and more. Nothing to type, no browsers to launch!' Device support is fairly extensive (iPhone, WinMo, BlackBerry and more), and tag scanning appears to work quickly and reliably from different distances and angles. Long Zheng has an overview on his site. The Tag is similar to a barcode, but has obvious visual differences — colored vs. black and white, and triangles vs. squares or lines. The technology looks interesting, but will it get the adoption necessary to be successful? What applications do you see for such technology?"
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Microsoft Tag, Smartphone-Scannable Barcodes

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  • by chetbox (1335617) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:34AM (#26430415)
    Nokia have had something similar for ages, but the adoption hasn't been all that quick: http://mobilecodes.nokia.com/ [nokia.com] However Microsoft do seem to be making it more obvious to the observer that you need a phone to decode these mysterious images.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Nokia had it for ages? Heck the CueCat [cuecat.com] had it some time ago. Seriously, big deal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sobrique (543255)
      Several people have had 'barcodes' for phones, but the problem has always been one of image recognition. I've just tried my WinMo phone on the image on the MS website, off my screen. I was quite impressed at how well it managed to cope actually - it doesn't seem to require particularly much image quality to differentiate the layout, which is quite a step ahead of the 'snowflakes' I've seen doing this sort of thing before.
    • by dhavleak (912889) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:30AM (#26430771)

      Similar but not the same - the combination of color/shapes seems to make the pattern recognition for this very reliable and quick. If you have a smartphone give it a shot and you'll see what I mean. The code in your link is a QR code -- scanning one of those is usually hit-or-miss (and usually more miss than hit).

      Another key difference - a QR code stores the data in the code itself, limiting what you can do with it. These Tags are just a GUID or something like it. The scanning app on your phone will send that number to a service (MS hosted -- that's the monetization I guess). The service responds with the data - which could be a message, URL, vCard, or phone number.

      I can see a bunch of useful applications for stuff like this:
      - Flight Arrival/Departure Info: tags can be posted at easily visible locations around the airport with a sign "scan here for arrival/departure info".
      - Business Cards: You could print a tag (with your vCard associated with it) on your business card. Now for a business contact to get your contact info, all they have to do is scan the tag. No fiddling with data entry on a tiny-ass qwerty to enter a name, phone number, etc.

      • by dhavleak (912889)

        ... give it a shot and you'll see what I mean ...

        Forgot to mention: Easiest way to install it is to point your phone to http://gettag.mobi/ [gettag.mobi]

        To give it a whirl, scan any of the tags in this article [istartedsomething.com] (same as the main story link).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mobby_6kl (668092)

          Well I gave it a try on my HTC S730 [htc.com] because I have nothing else to do at work. The camera is a pretty shitty 2 megapixel with no autofocus, but it seems to work quite well. The tags are 15mm across once printed and are reliably detected from about 15cm away in rather average lighting (diffuse sunlight, the paper is in the shadow behind some equipment). Doesn't have to be straight down either, something like 45 degrees usually works fine too. Oh, scanning them from the monitor works too, but I thought that w

          • by dhavleak (912889)
            Apparently, they aren't too sensitive to color distortions -- the data seems to be stored in the brightness as opposed to the color. I don't really understand the technical stuff behind it, but see here for an example of monochrome or two-tone tags that work [istartedsomething.com]
          • by 6Yankee (597075)

            HTC Kaiser (O2 XDA Stellar) running WM6.

            "The camera on your phone could not be accessed - 80070037. Close any other applications that may be using it and try again."

            This persisted after closing all apps. Rebooted the phone and it was fine.

            I got a bit frustrated with trying to get the thing to take a photo, pressing all the buttons that made sense - but while I was waving the phone around, it automatically identified the tag and fired up IE without my pressing anything. Now I know how it works, I'm actually

      • QR Codes are used extensively here in Japan, and have been for many years. I also have no trouble at all reading them. Takes less than a second, and I don't need internet access to read them. I've also been amazed at the kind of data: coupons, ads, Business card, small maps, flight information, restaurant food nutritional information, and that's just scratching the surface of what they're used for here.

        Frankly, the thing I see killing this one that it relies on a central server. Man-in-the-middle anyone?
      • by jhol13 (1087781)

        QR code stores the data in the code itself, limiting what you can do with it.

        The "data" can be an URL, vCard or phone number (or e-mail address). I'd say it is less limited than the Microsoft approach.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by crazycheetah (1416001)

      Oh god, thank you. I was thinking either someone has to point out how this has been done at least a couple times or my head was going to explode. Especially with this being slashdot.

      I wasn't thinking Nokia, exactly, though. I was actually thinking about my Palm Treo 700w (yeah, with Windows Mobile), where the majority of the applications I used were downloaded with a similar method. The only thing I don't recall ever using is the colored barcodes, but I can't say that gets me the least bit excited about thi

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      There are a lot of that kind of stuff floating around, but suddenly when Microsoft does it it makes into Slashdot.

  • QR code? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MoFoQ (584566) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:37AM (#26430421)

    sounds like QR Code [wikipedia.org] which is widely used in Japan (it's what the CueCat [wikipedia.org] couldn't do in the states).

    Microsoft...always trying to re-invent the wheel and try to pass it on as a new invention.

    • by Jugalator (259273)

      It's also used here in Sweden by at least one major newspaper.

      So yes, they're catching on a trend here. It can be used to cram more content into a limited space. Good if a company is trying to cut costs by not making thicker newspapers. Annoying if you don't want to context switch from reading a newspaper at your leisure, and having to start browsing on a tiny mobile phone. :-p

    • The CueCat was the first thing I thought of as well. The trouble with these technologies is that I've never understood how the usefulness outweighed the inconvenience. The only interesting one I've heard about is for the G1 (android based phone). It lets you compare the price of something in online stores and nearby brick and mortars - pretty nifty.
      • by xaxa (988988)

        I'd like to see them on more advertisements. If I see an advert I'm interested in I often take a photo of the URL with my phone to remind myself. If QR codes were used that would be better.

        But, I see most adverts while I'm on foot or seated: on the train, while walking in the street, on a bus, or an escalator. Generally I have the chance to stop and take a photo. If you only ever drive past advertisements this won't be very useful.

    • Big difference (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spectrokid (660550) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:38AM (#26430827) Homepage
      QR code has the data embedded in the tag. This thing seems to be just a pointer to a record in a MS database. So MS gets a copy of all your data, AND you need to be online to read it. Thanks but no thanks.
      • Re:Big difference (Score:5, Informative)

        by dhavleak (912889) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:06AM (#26430999)

        Well, there's obviously tradeoffs associated:

        A QR code stores the data in the tag itself so (AFAIK) it can have variable size. It's black and white and the shapes are smaller. So the pattern recognition can be harder, might not work well with low resolution cameras, and there are practical limits on how much information you can encode into the tag.

        Microsoft tag's strength is pattern recognition. It looks to me like the tag has been designed with low-res cameras, variable distances and light conditions in mind. Scanning has been working for me from all kinds of distances and screen angles, and it's been super-quick.

        To achieve this it looks like MS had to make the tag data a fixed length and use the data essentially as an index number. Sure, you gotta go through their service, but well, they're providing a service (duh).. They've announced that the tag scanning app, and the act of scanning a tag will always be free services. Creating a tag is free right now while the service is in beta, but I'm sure they'll start charging a fee at some point. If/when that happens, an entity interested in creating a tag simply needs to weigh the cost/benefit and decide if it's worth it.

        About MS having your data -- well, for example if you're in an airport and you see a tag that says "scan here for arrival/departure info" -- you scan it, it takes you to a page with flight info. How's that different from say, doing a search query and reaching the same website? Ultimately, the person/entity creating the tag will link the data (URL, vCard, whatever) to it. If they're not comfortable with this data residing on an MS server, why would they create the tag in the first place? You, as the consumer, the person scanning the tag, aren't uploading your data on MS's server.

        • by EgoWumpus (638704)

          On the other hand, if I go to Delta's website to see my flight information, only Delta really knows I did so - and may not know it's me specifically if I'm not required to log in. In this case, though, Microsoft (or other service provider) knows I 'went to Delta's website' - or whatever else the tag-shortcut did for me.

          On the whole, I think that the ability to have real-world hyperlinks (because, face it, that's what they are) is really valuable. On the other hand, I don't think that it needs to be a moneti

      • What's stopping me to encode an url as a QR Code?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tg123 (1409503)
      QR codes are widely used in Japan they are literally on everything -

      Why I think they are so popular is that japanese (kanji/hiragana/katakana ) is hard to type on a mobile phone.

      With QR codes you just take a picture and your phone goes to the website.

      Microsoft Tags don't sound that different except you have to use Microsoft to access the info.

  • Isn't semacode [semacode.com] good enough to enter a URL into a mobile phone?
    • by aliquis (678370)

      It only seemed to do facebook so, uhm, no :D

      But there may be others which are better, QR code like someone else suggested [slashdot.org] is actually mentioned in TFA but it stored the information in the code, so it doesn't link you to the information and therefor it doesn't do the same thing as Microsofts one do, although it could obviously store an URL to, it's not just limited to that purpose like Microsofts is.

      I assume there may be others which is more centered around URLs.

      Not a new idea in any case, and the color one

      • Yeah I think QR code is what I was looking for.
      • by tonytnnt (1335443) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:50AM (#26430893)

        Not a new idea in any case, and the color one looks like shit, even though they can store more bits.

        Now that I think about it, wouldn't QR Code have a HUGE advantage in some print advertising because it's black and white vs. color? I mean, I know that Tag appears to fit into a 4 color process, but it just seems like a 1 color process would be more advantageous... or am I completely off base here?

        • Monochrome works [istartedsomething.com], but pure greyscale seems to cause issues.

  • Applications (Score:5, Insightful)

    by James_Duncan8181 (588316) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:38AM (#26430435) Homepage

    Hmmm...adverts/spam would be the main application I'd imagine. Also a way to get someone to a URL that they cannot check before hand as the symbol is only machine readable. This looks like a great way to get people to exploit pages.

    Tempting!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jeffs72 (711141)
      Heh, won't be long before there are shirts with Microsoft Tag for lemonparty.org and 2girls1cup.com Goatsex anyone? Ew.
    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      Quick, patent a laser pointer that projects the barcode of goatse.cx

  • Finns did it already (Score:3, Informative)

    by galaxy (212802) <<ten.okkavros> <ta> <ilumas>> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:41AM (#26430457)

    As so many digital-age inventions, this has been done in Finland ages ago. :) There's even a company whose business is built around it: http://www.upc.fi/en/upcode/ [www.upc.fi]

    • by sjs132 (631745)

      Shh... I'm buying the stock Now... I'm sure it will be ripe for a microsoft move soon, if they haven't already absorbed it. You know, "Resistance is futile" and all... ;)

  • by biscuitlover (1306893) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @05:44AM (#26430485)

    QR codes [wikipedia.org] have been doing exactly the same thing for a while now.

    And to be honest, I really can't see either catching on... The general public are constantly getting more familiar with the web, and getting more comfortable with finding their own favourite 'trusted' sources of information. Even if Microsoft does somehow convince enough manufacturers to start adding codes to their packaging, are people really going to jump at the chance to instantly look up a load of information on that particular television/cosmetic/breakfast cereal on some arbitrary MS website? Because that's all this really amounts to... a link. More info here [techcrunch.com].

    • And to be honest, I really can't see either catching on...

      I don't know about "catching on" in the sense of people actually using them (I don't), but they're incredibly common in Japan, and have been for the last few years. Advertisements have them, magazines have them, McDonald's hamburger wrappers have them [calorielab.com]... Granted, it could all be a mass delusion of marketroids, but I doubt so many companies would go to the effort of putting the codes on--and continuing to put them on year after year--unless there was feedback saying it was effective.

      • by plover (150551) *

        And to be honest, I really can't see either catching on...

        Granted, it could all be a mass delusion of marketroids, but I doubt so many companies would go to the effort of putting the codes on--and continuing to put them on year after year--unless there was feedback saying it was effective.

        This could also just be the tail still wagging the dog. The barcode providers are trying desperately to capitalize on these things, and might be continually pushing them on various producers with words like "there's been a big uptick on direct-to-consumer barcodes in Finland, you don't want to miss this opportunity!" There could also be some co-branding going on -- we'll market you as an trend-setting adopter if you print these for free. That could be especially attractive when the codes cost nothing to

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mad_robot (960268)

          Tail wagging the dog? Very unlikely.

          QR code is an open standard. They can be used freely, in other words.

          The popularity of QR codes in Japan is at least partly due to their ability to store Japanese text which is very difficult to type in on mobile handsets.

  • Server management (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sobrique (543255)
    We have asset tags on our servers. To this day I think it'd be very handy to have encoded 'asset important information' on a 'tag' style thing.

    I mean, imagine - blip that server in the corner there, and in my hand I now have everything I need to know about it - configuration, downtime constraints, owners, where it's plugged into, etc.

    Also, supermarkets - being able to do 'extended show info' on a product, based on personal preferences. Allergy information is the most useful one, but even things like rec

    • by 4D6963 (933028)
      Can't you do that with a regular bar code and an extensive database? I mean as for your server thing you might as well just have the name printed on it, and you can have written on a sheet of paper what it does. No wait scratch that, it's better to take your cell phone out, open the barcode program, make sure it has the correct lighting and focus to read the barcode and wait till it recognizes what is sees.
    • by aliquis (678370)

      Would be sweet with wikipedia connection at various locations, museums, .. to. Though one can always search for it oneself to, if one think about it.

      • I'd be more interested in having wikipedia entrys tagged with coordinates. Imagine looking at your PDA displaying all interesting wikipedia entries about items in your immediate surroundings.
        • by aliquis (678370)

          Yeah, better solution I guess, just give me both, and way more entries. HHGTTG FTW

  • Walmart can't convince suppliers to use RFID without resorting to blackmail and MS is trying for world use of a new label just for fun?

    Good luck...

  • by Tikaro (726048) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:04AM (#26430617) Homepage
    The thing I like about payload-in-code formats, like QRCode, is that the information is actually out there in the world with you, albeit in a machine-readable format. The URL actually, you know, is sharing your space.

    With a payload-on-server code, the thing in the code isn't meaningful, even in to a machine, unless the WHOLE chain is working -- internet connection, server, the whole nine yards.

    QRcode just seems, I dunno, more "honest."
    • by papasui (567265)
      It's a two-way street in my opinion. Once you commit the QRcode to print it's permanent. Microsoft's approach of essentially using an index/pointer means that the content can evolve over time. For example if you happen to scan a 3 year old QRcode vs a 3 year old Microsoft Tag there is at least a chance that the Tag may still be relevant. That said, both are fking lame to me as a consumer.
      • by jvkjvk (102057)

        No, it's not. Microsoft's implementation from a data standpoint is simply inferior.

        There is no conceptual difference between a Microsoft Index and a URL and there is nothing to stop QRcodes from being URLs. The data on the "other end" can either be there or not, modified at any point in time, etc

        Either way doesn't really matter. Either the service provider will update the data to be relevant data or they won't.

        The benefit of QRcodes over the MS implementation is that in addition to encoding a pointer to

  • by solune (803114) <peteseyeview@nOSpam.yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:17AM (#26430689) Journal
    I've always wanted to turn my phone into a cue-cat!(R)
  • So... the brighty "researchers" at Microsoft finally heard of QR Code, maybe suggested that a decoder be implemented in a next release of Windows Mobile, and had to reinvent the wheel so it would be "new stuff" ? That said, it *is* different from QR Code, a QR Code can story any arbitrary data, this variant seem to resolve around URLs to web services that do an awful lot of stuff without the user's explicit consent (other than scanning the code). Damn. Having seen the horrors of ActiveX "automations", it s
  • by infofarmer (835780) <infofarmer@FreeBSD.org> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:24AM (#26430735) Homepage
    Is it just me, or do MS tags look like 50 positions of 4 colors, i.e. 100 bits, which, minus error correction, probably boils down to 64-80. It's obvious you need a server-based resolver to convert these few bytes into an URL. Now guess who manages the server and how much do they want to charge for each entry.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by psychofox (92356)

      Yup, seems like a garbage idea to me.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code [wikipedia.org]

      Can hold a a couple of kilobytes and have been around for over a decade and are in use everywhere in Japan.

      You can go to a website and create one which contains anything you like, i.e your business card details, in a standard format, a url, telephone number, etc.

  • by xiando (770382) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:27AM (#26430759) Homepage Journal
    CueCat, QT, it's just a fancy barcode. Except that Microsoft can charge everyone who uses or implements their version of the barcode. Reinventing the wheel IS profitable. This is ODF vs OOXML all over again except that this time there is no open format available as an alternative. Hackers should get right on making an open fancy-barcode standard, and where oh where is RMS on this issue?
    • This is ODF vs OOXML all over again except that this time there is no open format available as an alternative.

      There are plenty of Free two-dimensional barcodes. Data Matrix is old enough that its patent has expired, and QR Code, MaxiCode, and Aztec Code are permissively licensed. But the advantage of Microsoft's code, which uses color to improve density and looks up data on a server, is that it can be decoded more reliably even from a cheap cell phone camera.

      • by silanea (1241518)

        [...] But the advantage of Microsoft's code, which uses color to improve density and looks up data on a server, is that it can be decoded more reliably even from a cheap cell phone camera.

        Using colour is not necessarily a good idea. Differentiating black forms from white background is simple and reliable enough; but colour recognition is unreliable. There are quite a few variables that cannot be readily controlled or balanced, eg. lighting, the camera's colour settings, bad contrast.

        And looking up data on a server isn't an advantage in your context, either: Either a code can be decoded reliably and easily on a low-spec phone or it can't. Whether the decoded data is actual content or only a r

        • by tepples (727027)

          Using colour is not necessarily a good idea. Differentiating black forms from white background is simple and reliable enough

          Dedicated dot code scanners have a gray sensor. But end users are more likely to already own a color camera built into a mobile phone than a dedicated dot code scanner. Color cameras have a color filter array [wikipedia.org] over their sensor, and the camera's driver tries to reconstruct a full-color image from the filtered sensor readings. A lower-density code that includes color is more likely to survive the color filter array intact than a higher-density monochrome code. Microsoft's triangle code uses cyan, magenta, yel

          • by silanea (1241518)

            [...] A lower-density code that includes color is more likely to survive the color filter array intact than a higher-density monochrome code. Microsoft's triangle code uses cyan, magenta, yellow, and black as the code units, and distinguishing those doesn't depend too much on lighting. [...]

            Tell that to the camera in my Nokia E65. Depending on the type of light source some colours can be completely off. Not just a shade or two, but they really turn into a different colour, eg. blue tends to become bright green under halide lamps at night if the object I want to photograph only receives indirect lighting, and anything white or greyish tends to turn bright red-orange.

            In theory you are right, but judging from my experience with cameras in consumer-grade mobiles I see quite a potential for headach

  • is that they are so g****** ugly to look at. Especially on a large sign.

  • OK, where's the submarine patent?

    Oh, they're playing silly games even before we get that far...

    Let's see... the second link has a nice deceptive picture of the two technologies not to scale, but printed against each other so it looks like the color coded one is smaller. Then there's an actual scale comparison, but the Microsoft one is only an encoded link, so it contains less data than the tags it's compared with. There's no reason you can't swipe your iPhone over a UPC and look it up online (I've done that with my cue-cat).

    And of course "A nice side-effect of this is also the ability for publishers to gather reporting data on how many times it was seen." Nice. Right. Plus, Microsoft gets that data as well. And of course it's got all the downsides of any cloud technology... if the server's down or you're not online you're stuck.

    • Have you ever found a phone application which can read UPC barcodes?

      • by argent (18001)

        Have you ever found a phone application which can read UPC barcodes?

        I haven't looked, I don't have a smartphone. People do this routinely in Japan with 2d barcodes on cellphones. In the US there's plenty of apps that read all kinds of barcodes for phones, including a couple that use standard 2d barcodes to do the same thing Microsoft's doing here, and Google has one that doesn't require a round trip to a central server (Google doing LESS data mining than Microsoft?). There's certainly no technical issue rea

      • by fbjon (692006)
        At least two on Symbian: UpCode and ZebraScan. UpCode reads QR, DataMatrix and UPC codes, but you have to toggle between 2D/1D modes.
    • by dhavleak (912889)

      Then there's an actual scale comparison, but the Microsoft one is only an encoded link, so it contains less data than the tags it's compared with.

      That's kind of the point though. For tags/barcodes/whatever to be useful, you gotta be able to read the barcode in all kinds of unfavorable conditions. Low-res cellphone cameras, from a moving vehicle pointing at a billboard, varying light conditions, distances, and angles. The whole idea is to not encode reams of data, and to optimize the the tag as best possible for the pattern recognition to succeed. And they nailed this part -- I suggest giving it a try if you have a phone that will work.

      There's no reason you can't swipe your iPhone over a UPC and look it up online (I've done that with my cue-cat).

      UPCs don't st

      • by argent (18001)

        Low-res cellphone cameras, from a moving vehicle pointing at a billboard,

        I'll give up that use case in exchange for not having drivers trying to snapshot billboards running into me.

        UPCs don't store a phone numbers, vCards, URLs, or messages.

        That was a side comment, there's plenty of other technologies already in widespread use.

        Kinda like search ads served by google [...]

        And yet Google's own version of this doesn't include that extra data-mining step.

        How were you planning to look up that UPC if you weren't

        • by dhavleak (912889)

          I'll give up that use case in exchange for not having drivers trying to snapshot billboards running into me.

          Cars have passengers too. People go from A to B on foot. You get the larger point, right?

          That was a side comment, there's plenty of other technologies already in widespread use.

          None of them nail pattern recognition under adverse conditions. Microsoft Tag does a stellar job there.

          And yet Google's own version of this doesn't include that extra data-mining step.

          1. Yes it does. It's called AdSense [wikipedia.org].
          2. You assumed the data mining step. Don't take your assumption as a truism.
          3. Data mining is not synonymous with privacy violation. "3 million new yorkers viewed your ad" is not the same as "IP address x.y.z.w viewed your ad"
          4. This will only lead to an unrelated tangent. I'l

  • We have to find Hollerith's grave and shove a stake through his heart.

  • My phone camera can't even make out a human face much less an intricate pattern of colors and shapes.
    • by faedle (114018)

      What's interesting is that Microsoft Tag seems to work even if the camera image is blurry and out of focus. I suspect the shape is irrelevant: the color and position is all that matters.

      • Sounds infinitely more useful if they could make the leap to making it fix pictures made by crappy cameras than using it to sell useless crap. Oh wait. This isn't about use it is about profit. Sorry, I slipped into thinking like a person rather than a mindless consumer there for a moment.
  • I remember a technology from a long time ago (just when webcams were coming out and ISDN was the shizzle) that allowed you to hold up a specially-designed advertisement in a magazine to your webcam, and it would pull out the secrets bits and send your browser to the website. No 2D barcodes, just steganographic [wikipedia.org] data in the picture.

    Any one else remember this?

  • by kobotronic (240246) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:41AM (#26431819)

    Visually I think the garish colors of these microsoft codes are going to be hard to incorporate in many graphics designs. QR codes may look busy but given their longtime adoption in Japan they have become iconic and accepted in many contexts. At least QR codes are monochrome - goes with pretty near everything.

    It is true that huge binary QR payloads makes for big tags, but that's also a rare application. QR codes are more often used for simply encoding URLs and email addresses, which is fine - achieves what these microsoft tags do, in roughly the same space, while remaining independent on any sole service provider acting as gate keeper for delivering the rereferenced payload, and the tag can be printed in monochrome on darn near everything.

    When QR encoded URLs reference server-hosted payloads, the user has the power to choose how and on which terms the client technology parses and retrieves the referenced payload. The QR parser can for example decode a human-readable URL which can be manually transcribed to any web browser.

    Aside from these observations, I think Microsoft tags would be almost acceptable if part of the encoded tag data was a URL for the payload decoding service, so as to permit non-microsoft entities to occupy the gatekeeper position. But overall, the net impression is that the Microsoft Tag is too proprietary, not robust enough, and of too little use to be considered a reasonable alternative to QR codes or other forms of payload-in-the-code tags.

  • When will they learn...?

    The legacy of the CueCat is that one sits in a drawer and another on my desk, hacked into a basic barcode reader with an on-off switch, to be used once in a great while for scanning "open source" UPCs into Google. That's not at all what they had in mind, and a whole lot less commercial.

    Microsoft wants to reinvent this square wheel? I'm disappointed there won't be any free goodies to hack this time....

  • Go figure. No Android support.

  • I would lean heavily towards a BW solution, no change out of my 100's of label printers to implement such a solution.

  • I have a experience in cell phone marker tracking and IMO colored triangles are not the best solution. Colors are susceptible to lighting condition. This approach may have problem in poor lighting, where camera will have trouble to distinguish yellow from red and green from blue. I've tried colored markers and in my experience pure black and white work best. Also detection of rectangles is more reliable than detection of triangles/parallelograms under perspective transform. False positive for triangles also
  • I have a LG Voyager, it is not supported.

    So, if you have an LG phone plan on it not working. . .

    I'm not sure if you could just install the java compatible one or not, but yeah, you'd think they'd support voyagers, they are rather popular phones.

  • ...because I outlined potential uses [ideaexcursion.com] 5 days earlier.

    Probably my favorite idea is a type of scavenger hunt with clues that are decoded from Free Text tags posted around the city. Find a tag, decode the clue, leading you to the next tag, etc.

    The other great use would be integration of a tag into your address book, so that if you want to transfer your contact info, just let someone snap your vCard tag off your phone screen.

  • January 13, 2010 - Redmond WA After receiving thousands of calls from irate vacationers, Microsoft today issued a warning that taking pictures at your favorite tourist spot should be done with care to ensure that no Microsoft Tag is in frame as there are spammers "out there" littering the visual landscape with tags that point to porn and hate sites.

The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of bean counters. -- Alan Kay

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