Quick! What do Alanis Morrisette, Jenna Jameson, and bar codes have in common? They're all celebrating their 35th birthday this year. And the bar codes, by comparison, are starting to look the worse for wear.
Which is one reason why the brain trust at MIT are scrambling for a newer, truer way to scan products and find out all kinds of neat things about them — including their price. The system — dubbed "Bokode" after the photographic technique "bokeh," a way of reducing a background into a nice, soft blur — is based, not on a printed label, but on an LED projecting a number of tiny barcodes through a blurring lens. A camera on the receiving end, its own lens focused to infinity, can actually read the blurred bar codes. Still can't wrap your brain around the concept? Roll today's film, AV geeks!
Thanks to recent improvements in iPhone-based barcode reading such as Red Laser — plus the fact that, with Bokode, you don't have to have your scanner right on top of the bar code to read it — the possibilities exist for a single bar code-packed LED to be able to impart a wealth of information when scanned.