We've been using barcodes for a while now, but as the digital age surges forward they're starting to look increasingly outdated. You can't read them with a cell phone from more than a few feet away and they store very little information. The one advantage barcodes have is that they are cheaper than touted alternatives like RFID tags.
Now, the venerable bar code may have finally found a competitor. Bokodes, developed by researchers at MIT, look like the wave of the future. They can be read from an angle and at a distance by a cell phone camera, and they can display a wide variety of information. One example given in the BBC report is of library books tagged with Bokodes. A customer could type in the title he wanted to look for, take a picture of the aisle, and the photo will mark the position of the book on the aisle.
That's the kind of innovation that the digital age is supposed to bring to our daily lives. Shopping, or even searching for lost items around the house, would be made a lot easier with Bokodes. Restaurants could even store their menus on several Bokode tags implanted in the building, so that their information will show up in an AR feed or on Google Street View.
Currently a bokode is made of an LED covered by a mask and a lens. Those bokodes cost about $5, too expensive for implementation right now. But MIT says that new versions are currently being designed that could cost as little as five cents a piece. It'll be a few years yet before we start seeing bokodes take off, but there's definitely a lot of promise in the idea. Let's all give some big ups to MIT for once more helping to move us towards a more convenient future.Update: Interview with MIT Media Labs about Bokodes.