BoingBoing had an article about a guy who mowed a Semacode into a field for satellite imagery, which prompted me to make one for my website (see left). From what I can tell, there are two main “2D” barcodes (traditional barcodes encoding data in one direction) – DataMatrix and Semacode – which look exactly the same to the naked eye, but if you encode the same data in SC or DM, they produce different patterns. To make things worse, DM can encode as an URL, Phone Number, Text, or SMS – which all produce different patterns.
I first came across this at work when I noticed that the Pitney Bowes machine we have stamps every bulk mail envelope with a binary bar-code of sorts – turns out it’s a DataMatrix 2D barcode. Neat. I worked a convention for VMware today and there were barcodes on everyone’s namebadges – not this specific type, but a form of 2D barcode, and was quite useful in specific applications.
I can’t really see this taking off in the consumer space too much – I guess it wasn’t designed as such; people don’t have a great need to label/inventory things too often, unless you’re obsessive about your Warhammer collection or similar. The main stumbling block I see here is that there’s no easy way to convert JPEG (digital camera) to data on the computer. At least none that I could find. Right now you have to have an unlocked phone to run an app (good luck!), and a way to get the data off the phone, or buy a scanning PDA of sorts ($$$). Maybe the iPhone will allow 3rd party apps out of the box and make this a reality