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).
Active Print publications
- Screen Codes: visual hyperlinks for displays. John Collomosse and Tim Kindberg. In proceedings HotMobile 2008.
- Screen codes: efficient data transfer from video displays to mobile devices. John Collomosse and Tim Kindberg. One-page abstract in proceedings 4th European Conference on Visual Media Production (CVMP 2007).
- Understanding user engagement with barcoded signs in the Coast location-based experience. Kenton O'Hara and Tim Kindberg. To appear in the Journal of Location Based Services, 2008. A previous version of this paper is...
- "You Are Here" - Experiences with Located Symbols. Kenton O'Hara and Tim Kindberg. HP Labs technical report HPL-2006-120, September 2006.
- Augmenting the zoo visitor experience: collecting and sharing location-based content on mobile phones. Kenton O'Hara and Tim Kindberg (HP Labs), and Maxine Glancy, Lucian Baptista, Byju Sukumaran, Gil Kahana, Julie Rowbotham (BBC). Journal of CSCW 16(1-2):11-44.