Scan This Page for a Surprise
What if you could download an MP3 file, photo, or video game demo from a simple bar code printed in the newspaper? For ten months now, the 10 million readers of Japan’s daily newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun have been able to do just that, using software from Intacta Technologies that turns a bar code into a portable encrypted database.
Unlike a conventional bar code that contains a simple key to a database, Intacta’s code can contain virtually any kind of data—a document, a song, a photo, or a video. Using encoding, compression, and error-correction algorithms developed by the Israeli military, Intacta engineers have come up with software that can convert an audio clip, for example, into a tiny pattern of dots—Intacta.Code—which can then be printed in a newspaper or magazine. Once you scan this bitmapped image into your computer, Intacta’s reader software (a free download) reconstitutes the pattern of dots into the original audio clip.
So what makes this Intacta .Code so smart? Each byte of the original file is represented by a pattern of black-and-white or color dots. The code can contain around 400 bytes per centimeter. Intacta claims that its robust error correction enables the code to survive crumples and folds .
The same technology can also add a layer of security to a fax, hiding sensitive information from prying eyes. To send a fax, you would first convert it into Intacta .Code using the encoding software, then send it to the recipient’s fax modem. The recipient’s Intacta.Code reader software would immediately detect the encoded fax and decode it.
The company expects this new method of content distribution will be a boon to print media and advertisers—which could, for example, place a video ad inside a piece of code shaped like the company logo. Future uses might include a medical card that contains all of your medical history or traveler’s checks with encoded signatures.
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in PC Magazine.