Just as televisions have once evolved, the long-standing
monochromatic barcode could soon be getting the bump to color. Microsoft has
developed what it calls High Capacity Color Barcode (HCCB) technology is
licensing it to the International Standard Audiovisual Number International
Agency (ISAN-IA). The HCCB technology will be used to assist in the
identification of commercial audiovisual works such as motion pictures, video
games, broadcasts, digital video recordings and other media.
"The capability of these new bar codes to store more
data in a smaller space should provide a rich resource for the industry and
consumers alike," said Gavin Jancke, director of engineering for Microsoft
Research and inventor of the HCCB format. "The new code offers several
advantages over existing black-and-white bar codes most people are accustomed
to seeing on product packages, enabling new consumer experiences, more visual
appeal where aesthetics are important and the ability to incorporate advanced
Current ISAN codes allow an audiovisual work to be uniquely distinguished
from other works through a simple identification system, but they do not allow
additional features or functions to be incorporated. For the consumer, such
features could be such as product versioning, ratings identification, parental
control, product availability, special releases, contests, pricing and
promotions. On the publisher side, new functionality could be detailed data
that can aid in royalty payments, anti-counterfeiting efforts and market
Microsoft said that consumers may soon be able to interact
with the new barcodes by scanning the code with webcams and camera phones to
extract the added information. Eventually, consumers should be able to scan the
new, smaller bar codes directly from television, PC screens, movie posters, DVD
and CD jewel cases, magazine ads and billboards to retrieve additional
The colored barcode will also involve physical measures
against counterfeiting by incorporating nanotechnology that is invisibly
embedded within the material and ink of the code and product packaging.
The new multicolor bar code is expected to start appearing
on DVD media toward the end of 2007.
quote: Microsoft says the idea isn't to replace the traditional UPC barcodes used in checkout lines, but to supplement them."It's more of a 'partner' bar code," said Gavin Jancke, the Microsoft Research engineering director who invented the High Capacity Color Barcode. "The UPC bar codes will always be there. Ours is more of a niche bar code where you want to put a lot of information in a small space."