Brain Pickings

The Future of Data Tags: Bokodes

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Japanese blurs, or what amateur photography has to do wtih tech innovation.

QR codes may be a hot topic these days, but the MIT Media Lab, true to their penchant for one-upping innovation, have come up with a formidable QR-killer. Bokodes — from “barcode” and bokeh, the Japanese word for the blurred area around a photographer’s point of focus — are new camera-based data tags with the capacity to hold a few thousand times more data than traditional barcodes.

Ten times smaller than barcodes, Bokodes’ low-cost optical design can be read from as far as 4 meters away, much farther than barcodes, by taking an out-of-focus photo with any off-the-shelf camera. Bokodes can also encode directional and angular information — something barcodes can’t do.

With the proliferating implementations of good ol’ QR codes, we can only imagine the possible applications of Bokodes — from crowd gaming in public spaces to helping interactive interfaces like Microsoft Surface determine the position and identification of objects placed on them. And although we probably won’t be seeing them hit the mainstream anytime soon, we have enough faith in geek culture to trust that brilliant applications are already being cooked up.

Bokodes come from the Camera Culture group at the MIT Media Lab. The team is currently working on holographic Bokodes, which would greatly reduce the cost and size.

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