I was browsing my RSS feeds last night and Jack Cook's post jogged my memory about the Microsoft Tag demo we saw at Mobius December 2008. Microsoft Tag lets you create identifier tags for all kinds of things and can be used in magazines, billboards, web sites, in-store ads, and more to let you access a URL, dial a number, display text, or see vCard details. It only takes seconds to create tags and IMHO they are much more user-friendly than the QR codes I never quite grasped.
To read and determine what information is on a tag you simply launch the mobile application and point your camera lens at the tag. I was blown away by how quickly the tag info is picked up by the camera without even being close to focused in. There are Microsoft Tag readers for the following phones:
- Apple iPhone
- Blackberry 81xx, 83xx and Bold
- J2ME based handsets
- Symbian S60 3rd Edition
- Windows Mobile 5 and 6
Microsoft Tags technology was invented by Microsoft Research and used High Capacity Color Barcodes (HCCBs) to give you a powerful tool that I would really like to see take off. You will be amazed how your phone, even with a fixed focus lens, quickly identifies the tag and then takes the proper action. Check out these tags I made to see what happens on your mobile phone.
The HCCBs use shapes and colors, unlike the black and white QR codes, that seem to be much more accurate. I can see movie posters using these with Tags linking to trailers, magazines using them to send you to the advertisers site, and people putting them on their business cards to send you to their sites when read.
The Microsoft Tag system is currently in beta so there is no charge to create and use Tags. If Microsoft decides to eventually charge publishers to use them then any Tags created during the beta will continue to work for free for at least two years. Oh yeah, in your Tag management account you can even track and view all sorts of reports.
Visit the download page and get the Microsoft Tag reader for your mobile phone and try out my Tags in this blog post.