Bokode: The Better Barcode
Tiny labels packed with information

The ubiquitous barcodes found on product packaging provide information to the scanner at the checkout counter, but that's about all they do. Now, researchers at the Media Lab have come up with a new kind of very tiny barcode that could provide a variety of useful information to shoppers as they scan the shelves—and could even lead to new devices for classroom presentations, business meetings, videogames or motion-capture systems.

The tiny labels are just 3 millimeters across—about the size of the @ symbol on a typical computer keyboard. Yet they can contain far more information than an ordinary barcode: thousands of bits. Currently they require a lens and a built-in LED light source, but future versions could be made reflective, similar to the holographic images now frequently found on credit cards, which would be much cheaper and more unobtrusive.

One of the advantages of the new labels is that unlike today's barcodes, they can be "read" from a distance—up to a few meters away. In addition, unlike the laser scanners required to read today's labels, these can be read using any standard digital camera, such as those now built in to about a billion cellphones around the world.

Read the full article: "Barcodes for the rest of us"
MIT News | July 24, 2009

Comparison of Bokode to regular barcodes
Bokode (shown in the center) is a new, optical, data-storage tag that can store—in only 3mm of space—a million times more data than a bar co
MIT News Office