The bar code has already undergone some changes. Though the standard, striped variety is still ubiquitous on supermarket goods, two-dimensional bar codes have become commonplace on shipping labels, airline boarding passes and all over the place in Japan.
Now, Microsoft is hoping to take things a step further by adding color to the mix.
“We use color to store more information,” said Gavin Jancke, director of engineering for Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., research labs. Jancke is the creator of the new bar code format, which uses either four or eight hues to pack more data into less space. The new bar code also uses small triangles, as opposed to the squares used in the 2D black and white bar codes and the alternating thin and thick lines used in traditional UPC symbols.
The color bar code is being targeted especially for use on commercial media such as movies, video games and other recordings. Microsoft said the High Capacity Color Bar Code could start showing up on DVDs by the end of this year, thanks to a deal it has signed with an organization that helps coordinate product labeling for audiovisual works.
The idea is that after adding the new bar code, then DVDs and their packages would offer added security or, potentially, links to a movie trailer or other bonus features.
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