Thursday, October 05, 2006

Matrix | sema | 2D bar codes

Semacode (Canada), VTT (Finland), Denso-Wave (Japan) and others have quickly understood the possibilities of mobile phone's camera and outlined range of solutions which utilize the camera. One direction of development is 2D bar codes -- you know those squares with black and white pixels in them (=tags). Tags can be easily captured with a mobile phone's camera and decoded to obtain a certain www address.

The first truly two-dimensional bar code was introduced by Intermec Corporation in 1988 when they announced Currently Japan is leading the development of 2D codes - no doubt about it. Interactive television programs have strengthened co-operation with mobile phone developers. TBS (Tokyo broadcasting System) and FujiTV have done co-operation with ColorZip Japan when developing server based color barcode reader technology. One can easily access sponsored websites, listen to music samples or win prizes by "clicking" the codes. Also NHK (Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai) utilizes 2D codes, more precisely QR (Quick Response) Code.

A few years back Japan was practically the only country where 2D bar codes were in use due to the more advanced cameras. At that time VTT was already developing 2D code reader solution named UpCode. UpCode is an optical code reader that uses mobile phones/devices to add any electronic information or system to printed products. With the application it is possible to integrate all businesses, and all forms of eCommerce, with print media. Current trends are towards... content-wise 3D images, animations and technology-wise 3D or invisible codes.

There are still only a few examples where 2D codes have been utilized in games. Just to name a few:
- Conqwest (2004) & other treasure hunt games
- Gridlock
- MupeLand Yard

We (too) have developed our own solutions to link e.g. culturally significant spots with a orienteering and a problem solving game. We utilize both GPS and 2D bar codes. The really interesting and inspiring solutions are still on the way.

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