So it looks like Microsoft has released a new tagging platform and software application, known as Microsoft Tag, for on the go collection of data.
The intent is to “tag” publication, signs, images as a way to convey information about the object or resource. Consider putting a music poster up, and in the corner the Tag can be snapped to gather the name of the album, or maybe the URL to get the album. Instead of attempting to write this down, just snap, and go. The application retains a history of tags you have snapped on the go, so you can refer to them later.
I’ve used QRcodes in the past, with a mobile application to find information such as URLs, or vCards, etc. The problem has been that with small codes, and less than stellar phone cameras, some codes would not capture properly. I wonder if the Microsoft Tag platform will yield better, since the pattern is much larger, and appears to use the colors as part of the scheme. This seems to offer greater fidelity when the user is distant from the tagged image, where QRcodes may have suffered from sub-par cameras. I could see one of these codes being displayed on the television, or in a movie theatre, where it could be snapped by mobile devices. So while the concept is certainly not new, the implementation may offer some advantages.
A feature that may set it apart from others before, is that the platform is potentially a bi-directional way for tag creators to get feedback on how many times someone has snapped their tag. If the user has an internet enabled phone, and they choose to opt in to count the snap against the creators metrics, a report can be generated by the tag creator showing it’s interest to mobile users. The web interface for creating and reporting tags allows you to generate a tag from .75inches to 120inches in size, which should make it usable across many different applications. It is obvious that this platform is designed with mobile marketing in mind, especially with the analytics, but hopefully it will remain free for personal use.
The Tags can contain a web URL to be opened by mobile devices, a vCard for transmitting contact information, a phone number to be auto-dialed, or even free form text. Microsoft doesn’t post the specifics around the platform, so it might have other potential uses not shown in the current beta release.
Microsoft had a project a few years ago, which I believe was called Live Barcode, which had a web interface for generating QRcodes, but this seems to offer more promise. You can read more about the system at the Microsoft Tag FAQ.
So if you are curious, give it a shot, and install the application. It appears to be available for Windows Mobile, Java/J2ME, Android, Symbian S60, Blackberry, and the iPhone. I’m curious how many people will read this post, and attempt to snap the image above.