Microsoft has something really innovative out there called Microsoft Tag. It’s basically like a barcode with some data on it. You could install the Microsoft Tag Reader application on almost any mobile phone, take a snapshot of a barcode, and it will quickly find the information about it. For example: There’s a movie poster, and you see a special-looking barcode where you can find more information. If you have already installed the application, you could just take a picture of the barcode, and depending on your data network, you could probably get to the official site of that movie fast. These barcodes are also useful in scenarios like at a bus stop to find the a schedule/route map, real estate listing where you could find more information on a property being sold, and a lot of others you could think of.
The technology behind the Microsoft Tag is called High Color Capacity Barcode (HCCB) invented by Microsoft Research. According to the information on the page, it’s much better than the other technologies like QRCode or Datamatrix code because Microsoft Tags can be smaller, can store 1byte of information in just 4 color symbols, among other neat things. It’s already been used on the latest Viva Piñata CD, and there’s even a MoMA exhibit that includes the Microsoft Tag. Microsoft does a great job of explaining this on their site.
Maybe you’ll be seeing a tag somewhere outside one day. Long Zheng has written up some pretty neat posts about it:
There’s a lot of potentital for this technology. Hope to see it improve a lot more before it gets out of beta.