Active Print and Mobile Codes

The following text was written around 2005. We were pioneers in using barcodes as interfaces, and in developing readers for the mobile phone. But the world has moved on! For what it's worth, while QR codes are little used in the West, they are very widely used in China, as I discovered on a 2017 stay. Mostly they are read from screens rather than paper, to exchange contact details and as a form of payment

The Active Print project is exploring how printed materials and digital displays can be linked to online content, services and applications in all kinds of urban/suburban/rural situations. In particular the project is investigating how this can be done using the mobile phone - the device that many people carry with them everywhere. Current camera phones now have good enough optics, resolution and processing power to be able to read special "barcode"-like symbols known as "codes" on the printed materials. These symbols encode information such as URLs, phone numbers and various pieces of meta information. Codes can link any printable surfaces such as books, magazines, leaflets and stickers in addition to certain types of digital display screens to on-line content in all kinds of urban/suburban/rural situations.

Update: to create a business ecosystem for codes, I partnered with Publicis Groupe, Nokia and several other companies to create the Mobile Codes Consortium. This in turn has led to standardisation activities in the OMA and GSMA (see this news from Dec 07).

Visit www.mobilecodes.org and www.activeprint.org for more information.

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