Friday, July 31, 2009

Bokode - the barcode killer and much more

In SIGGRAPH 2009 conference, the MIT media labs is going to present a paper titled, Bokode: Imperceptible Visual Tags for Camera Based Interaction from a Distance. Here is the abstract of the paper:
We show a new camera based interaction solution where an ordinary camera can detect small optical tags from a relatively large distance. Current optical tags, such as barcodes, must be read within a short range and the codes occupy valuable physical space on products. We present a new low-cost optical design so that the tags can be shrunk to 3mm visible diameter, and unmodified ordinary cameras several meters away can be set up to decode the identity plus the relative distance and angle. The design exploits the bokeh effect of ordinary cameras lenses, which maps rays exiting from an out of focus scene point into a disk like blur on the camera sensor. This bokeh-code or Bokode is a barcode design with a simple lenslet over the pattern. We show that an off-the-shelf camera can capture Bokode features of 2.5 microns from a distance of over 4 meters. We use intelligent binary coding to estimate the relative distance and angle to the camera, and show potential for applications in augmented reality and motion capture. We analyze the constraints and performance of the optical system, and discuss several plausible application scenarios.
I did not read the full paper, but those interested can find it here(5.5 MB) and here is the news release. This paper might change the way in which the future looks. This Bokode is a kind of barcode design that could be detected by ordinary camera. The most obvious usage of this is in retail industry in place of barcode. Bokode has several advantages that the ordinary barcode lacks. It can be read by an out of focus cellphone camera. It has usage in machine vision and in a normal scenario to identify the locations of different objects in a plane, their positions and angles. I am not an imaging expert, but I think that Bokode may be the starting point for many new imaging devices. MIT has also released some cool sketches with projected future scenarios.

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