Microsoft Invests in Futuristic 2D Barcode Technology

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has expressed interest in further developing two-dimensional barcodes as part of their future corporate outlook.

Two-dimensional barcodes are also called QR (quick response) codes and work like the ones found on product packaging. However, two-dimensional barcodes have the ability to store more data, including website information and email addresses.

Scan with Your Cellphone Camera

The whole process of using 2D barcodes is quite futuristic. People scan the barcode using their cellphone camera, which activates the phone's browser and directs them to a designated website linked to that particular code. (Source:

This is not the first time Microsoft has experimented with this advanced system. Two years ago, the company introduced a 2D barcode product called Windows Live Barcode designed to transfer information between computers, billboards and magazines. The information was exclusive to those mobile devices running Windows Mobile software.

The following year, Microsoft released the High Capacity Barcode, which included a detailed set of geometric patterns comprised of colored triangles. The idea was to increase the amount of information storage while opening the technology to a wider variety of phone models, including those with lower-end cameras and lenses.

New Barcode offers Secondary Deals to Consumers

Microsoft later went on to introduce a new product called "Microsoft Tag", with compatible "TagReader" software that worked with several types of popular cellphone models, including Apple iPhones, RIM BlackBerrys and Windows Mobile handsets.

While the tag system has failed to catch on thus far with the average consumer (despite testing and support from Hardee's and General Mills) the system has since discovered new-found promise among video game enthusiasts.

To publicize the release of the Xbox game "Halo Wars," Microsoft created tag-enabled store displays at select Wal-Mart locations. Those who scanned (or snapped) the tags with their cellphones were directed to a special website where they could pre-order the game and receive free ringtones. (Source:

Microsoft found that 85% of the people who visited the site ended up downloading content onto their phone.

Whether the rest of the retailing world (outside of video game sales alone) is prepared for the new technology remains to be seen.

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