The quintessential mobile phone has already been treated as a multipurpose tool of modern technology. But now, this device will be transforming itself into a digital remote control that can read encoded information, such as bar codes. On reading such encoded information, the mobile phone will be able to translate into videos, pictures or text files on its screen.
The most effective way to link cell phones with physical objects is a new generation of bar codes- square-shaped mosaics of black and white boxes that can hold much more information than traditional bar codes. The cameras on cell phones scan the codes, and then the codes are translated into videos, music or text on the phone screens.
This new technology is already in use in parts of Asia, but is still in development in the United States, and allows mobile phones to connect everyday objects with the Internet.
For instance, in Japan, McDonald’s customers can already point their cell phones at the wrapping on their hamburgers and get nutrition information on their screens. Besides, users can also point their phones at magazine advertisements to receive insurance quotes. What’s more, film promoters can send their movie trailers from billboards directly on to mobile phones.
According to Tim Kindberg, a senior research at the Bristol, England, lab of Hewlett-Packard, “You’ve picked up this product, and you don’t want to go back to your PC. Or you’re outside this building, and you want more information. We call it the ‘Physical hyperlink.”
In the United States, advertisers have expressed their interest in offering similar capabilities. However, the only problem seems to be that in America cell phones do not come pre-loaded with the necessary software. So, for now, consumers will have to download the technology themselves.
There are other technologies being developed for consumers to scan objects, including radio waves, computer chips or satellite location systems, but the bar code technology is the most developed — and simple and cheap enough even for individuals to publish them on printed materials or on websites.