Microsoft’s brightest announcement at CES 2009 is pictured below.
What is it, you ask? Why it’s a tag!
You know how graffiti artists “tag” signs and billboards? Microsoft wants to break into that game, too, but in a legit way.
See, they’ve also introduced tag reader software for mobile devices at gettag.mobi, including an iPhone app, so you can snap a photo of one of these tags and be taken to a web site, download contact information, or pretty much anything else the web can deliver.
Actually, the tag doesn’t contain anything but a unique ID, which is then interpreted by Microsoft and translated into a redirect to some type of internet content.
This is pretty much the same idea as the CueCat, except brighter and uglier and without the cute cat-shaped reader. Or like QR Code, which I hear is big in Japan.
I know that using those particular colors made sense computationally. But it’s amazingly, astonishingly ugly. I hope it doesn’t take off. If anything could be uglier than some guy’s initials scrawled with spray paint, it’s those colors.
In practice, the tag reader app for iPhone (at least) is pretty finicky. It wants the tag to fill up “half the screen”, and wouldn’t work for me until I moved close enough for the tag alone to take up about a third of the screen width. And it wouldn’t work at all off-angle. Which makes it less likely to be useful on a sign or billboard, I think.
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