A bokode is a tiled series of data matrix codes. These data tags hold thousands of times more information than a barcode and they can be read by a standard mobile phone camera or scanner. Bokodes were created by scientists at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and it is hoped that they will eventually replace barcodes.
These tags are generally 3mm in diameter and they consist of an LED covered with a lens and tiny mask. The reader e.g. a mobile phone camera simply scans the bokode and the information contained within the bokode is displayed on your reader. The actual information is contained in the light shining through the tiny mask. This mask can vary in brightness depending on what angle it is seen from.
It is believed that bokodes have many advantages over conventional barcodes. One such advantage of a bokode is that they can be read from a further distance than a barcode. Typically, barcodes must be read within a short range and they could take up a lot more space on a product. Bokodes can be read from a longer range and the size of the tags mean they take up less space on a product when compared to a barcode.
Bokodes are currently expensive to produce as they require a lens and the LED they use also requires power. They usually cost around £3 each to produce. Researchers do believe they can refine the technology and this could lead to a reduction in the cost to produce it. They believe they can make the technology passive so it does not require power to transfer the data. This could be done by making the tags reflective rather than having a powered LED to shine the light, making bokodes cheaper to produce.
Typical applications include industrial uses such as tracking specific products or objects, similar to a normal barcode. There is more potential for the bokode to be used in supermarket applications as they can be read on mobile phones. The consumer could scan the bokode and find out important product information such as nutritional value or price comparison of the different products on the supermarket shelf.
Bokodes do certainly have the potential to displace barcodes and the tags do have advantages over barcodes such as a longer read range and the fact they can store more information than barcodes. At the moment, bokodes are more expensive to produce than barcodes and other technology such as RFID can also be considered as a potential replacement for the barcode.