For a long time barcode labels were the essential ingredient that transformed our manufacturing processes, stock taking capabilities and retail processes. Cutting on labour, training, time and overall assets, barcode labels became a necessity for nearly all product based industries. However, a little like the cats eye, its huge benefits were felt but it was rarely given a second thought.
Then QR codes came along and suddenly we could all use QR codes pro-actively to source information in shops restaurants and any retail outlet. More than that we could actually go through a whole buying process. Well, now the barcode is about to go to the next stage. No, its not going to take over the world just yet, but it has found a voice. You can now hear barcodes.
How does it work?
Research at Carnegie Mellon University found that when barcodes are physically etched onto a surface and something is dragged across it, a sound is produced. To take advantage of this it is hooked up to a computer which receives the sound through a microphone, recognizes the waveform and executes a command based off of it. Changing the amount of space between the grooves allows for endless unique identifiers to be associated with different actions.
How could these acoustic barcode labels be used?
The main point here is to read acoustic barcodes there is no need for a separate device such as a mobile phone. Imagine walking down a street and seeing barcodes on the window. All you need to do is rub your finger along the barcode label and the voice is activated to tell you all about the product you are interested in. And this is just one idea. See the video to view all the other possible ways that this innovation could be put into action.
However the jury’s still out as to whether this is a viable idea or not. With so much money and energy being put into QR barcode technology, industry may not be ready to take on a product that is both a parallel venture and in
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