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Posted: April 21, 2007

Microsoft to use nanotechnology barcode on Xbox games and DVDs

(Nanowerk News) A new, nanotechnology-enabled color barcode system developed by Microsoft will find its way onto DVDs later this year.
"We use color to store more information," said Gavin Jancke, director of engineering for Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., research labs. Jancke is the creator of the new bar code format, which uses either four or eight color hues to pack more data into less space. The new bar code also uses small triangles, as opposed to the squares used in the 2D black and white bar codes and the alternating thin and thick lines used in traditional UPC symbols.
High Capacity Color Bar Code on Xbox360 High Capacity Color Bar Code
Up to 3,500 alphabetical characters of data can be embedded into each square inch of the High Capacity Color Bar Code.
A company called DatatraceDNA will embed nanoparticles into the code as an anti-counterfeiting measure. This nanotechnology will be integrated into the structure of the code and packaging. When the material is illuminated under a particular frequency of light a unique emission spectrum is detected by a hand-held digital reader.
The four and eight-color geometric patterns can hold up to two-pages of data, double the amount of traditional black and white, striped barcodes. Microsoft has said consumers could interact with the new barcodes, using webcams and mobile phones with cameras.
The idea is that after adding the new bar code, the coded items would offer added security or, potentially, links to a movie trailer or other bonus features.
There are some downsides to the colorful approach. In addition to the obvious need for color labels, it also requires fairly high-quality printing, making it unsuitable for, say, shipping labels. Standard bar code scanners also won't read the codes.
The color bar code, which is not intended to replace the currently used UPC codes, is being targeted especially for use on higher-value commercial media such as movies, video games and other recordings. Microsoft said the High Capacity Color Bar Code (HCCB) could start showing up on DVDs by the end of this year, thanks to a deal it has signed with an organization that helps coordinate product labeling for audiovisual works.
One company to commercialize the new barcodes is DatatraceDNA, the DataDot Technology – CSIRO joint venture Company. The company announced last week that it has been selected by the International Standard Audiovisual Numbering – International Agency (ISAN-IA) organization to authenticate the Microsoft Research HCCB.
The ISAN-IA, which coordinates a globally recognized identification system for audiovisual works, will make the Microsoft-developed barcode available to ISAN Registration Agencies worldwide for use in tracking, protecting and managing their audiovisual content. The exclusive ten year, license deal between ISAN-IA and Datatrace is for the application of covert DatatraceDNA nanoparticle molecular signatures to optical media products and packaging. The Datatrace signatures are invisible and can only be identified using the portable digital Reader, The Authenticator.
DataTraceDNA, referred to as a “molecular barcode”, is a relatively new approach to counterfeit security protection through nanotechnology, which helps to invisibly configure the molecular structure of a manufactured product or product label. The complexity of the barcode makes it extremely difficult to decipher, preventing counterfeiters from reproducing the authenticity code. DataTraceDNA technology is a Level 3 security system that is added during the manufacturing process. This creates an invisible, forensic marker only known to the brand owner that can be authenticated by logistics firms, customs border control, distributors, retailers, customers and audit teams. When the material is scanned by a portable digital reader, the unique emission spectrum is detected and referenced to the onboard database which in turn displays a meaningful code such as “Xbox 360.”
Source: Microsoft Research; DatatraceDNA; BBC News
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