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A replacement for the black and white stripes of the traditional barcode has been outlined by US researchers. Bokodes, as they are known, can hold thousands of times more information than their striped cousins and can be read by a standard mobile phone camera. The 3mm-diameter (0.1 inches), powered tags could be used to encode nutrition information on food packaging or create new devices for playing video games. The work will be shown off at Siggraph, a conference in New Orleans next week. "We think that our technology will create a new way of tagging," Dr Ankit Mohan, one of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers behind the work, told BBC News. Distant reader The Bokodes currently consist of an LED, covered with a tiny mask and a lens.
Information is encoded in the light shining through the mask, which varies in brightness depending on which angle it is seen from. Bokode Bokodes use light to encode information "It is either bright or dark depending on how we want to encode the information," said Dr Mohan. The researchers believe the system has many advantages over conventional barcodes. For example, they say, the tags are smaller, can be read from different angles and can be interrogated from far away by a standard mobile phone camera. "For traditional barcodes you need to be a foot away from it at most," said Dr Mohan. The team has shown its barcodes can be read from a distance of up to 4m (12ft), although they should theoretically work up to 20m (60ft). "One way of thinking about it is a long-distance barcode." Initially, said Dr Mohan, the Bokodes may be used in factories or industrial settings to keep track of objects.