In the recently conducted Consumer Electronic Show, Microsoft launched Microsoft Tag, real innovative concept to connect mobile barcodes (or tags) on physical objects to online content (opening mobile content, videos, music, contact information, promotions etc). The tag appears as shown below (this one will tag you to my blog, Retail Technology Blog).
From Microsoft Tag website:
Microsoft Tag creates unlimited possibilities for making interactive communications an instant, entertaining part of life. They tranform physical media (print advertising, billboards,product packages, information signs, in-store merchandising, or even video images)—into live links for accessing information and entertainment online.
With the Microsoft Tag application, 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!
The sophisticated technology powering Microsoft Tag, High Capacity Color Barcodes (HCCBs), was invented by Microsoft Research. It was designed from the ground up for maximum performance with the limited cameras on most mobile phones. Advanced image-processing techniques decode even out-of-focus barcode images, which means Microsoft Tag works with the fixed-focus camera lenses common in most mobile devices.
The advanced computer imaging of HCCBs employs different symbol shapes in geometric patterns and multiple colors to provide more information in less space.
The possibilities are endless for retailers, consider the following scenarios:
-- You go to a store and check out a box of cereals, you see Microsoft tag on the box, you use your Mobile phone Microsoft Tag Reader and you could be shown promotion around the box, you can compare prices with other brand of cereals etc.
-- You go to a store and check out Morningstar Farms Maple Flavored Sausage Patties box and using Microsoft Tag Reader app on your iPhone you are taken to the MSN Chef to the rescue website and are shown Recipes around the product. You are also shown the nutrition information about the product. This will ensure that you buy other ingredients along with the product for the recipe you just decided.
-- You buy a Laptop from Electronics and see a Microsoft Tag on the backside of Laptop. You click it using Microsoft Tag Reader app on your mobile and voila, you just registered your Laptop. You may also be shown the accessories you can buy for your laptop.
These are just few uses I could think on top of my head, there could be 100’s of such scenarios both offline and online. I definitely see Microsoft Tags being targeted by Retailers soon. You can try the app out, here, http://www.microsoft.com/tag/content/download/.