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Son of CueCat? Purdue Professor Embeds Hyperlinks 94

Posted by timothy
from the japan-8-years-ago dept.
rbook writes "Remember :CueCat, the "free" (as in beer) bar code scanner that was supposed to change everything by allowing advertisers (or whoever) to put hyperlinks in printed material? Well, the idea is back, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education: 'People who prefer print books over e-books may still want extra digital material to go with them. That's the idea behind Sorin Matei's project, Ubimark, which embeds books with two-dimensional codes that work as hyperlinks when photographed.' Photographing an image and uploading it sounds like more trouble than scanning a bar code to follow a URL, but they figure you can take the photograph with your smartphone and view the web page automatically on the mobile device." It looks like standard QR codes are embedded; what Ubimark is pushing is "a publishing environment which combines print books, ubilinks, a centralized Internet based interactive information repository and computer displays."
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Son of CueCat? Purdue Professor Embeds Hyperlinks

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  • They expect everyone to sign up for their "publishing environment" to add these embedded codes to their books? How long is THAT going to take before there's any critical mass of dead trees in people's hands to be able to use this?

    Google and Amazon already have thousands of books scanned. All they would need is a photo of any _existing_ book page, do a ballpark OCR on it and fuzzy match the database.

    So even if this is a useful idea, which I'm not seeing, from a practical standpoint they are never going

    • by omnichad (1198475)

      Better question - why do they expect people to pay them to do something they can so easily do themselves with standard QR codes?

    • by amplt1337 (707922)

      Bad ideas never die. They just go dormant for ten years, then emerge from the ground like mindless locusts.

      We also call the phenomenon "Everything old is new again."

      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        I think the problem with this is still the same as the old Cuecat problem. What happens when their master plan folds? Now you have a bunch of media out there with embedded barcodes leading off to a web site that's now defunct. It's as useful as finding an old thread that says "click here for the solution", which is a dead site.

        Someone else posed the idea that the barcode could be the compressed data for the information you were seeking. i.e., a barcode on a tire which holds

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Agreed. Here's a novel idea. Provide hyperlinks as... gasp... URLs! You can print them in footnotes. Then, people can get the related content without having to carry around special hardware whose sole purpose is to read links from the one paper book in the universe that has these barcodes. It didn't make sense when Cuecat did it for catalogs, and that's orders of magnitude more frequently updated than books, college textbooks notwithstanding.

          I could see this being of some limited utility for college te

      • by pete6677 (681676)

        Yep. Like "network computers" (dumb terminals) and now cloud computing.

    • I remember Guido Sohne tried to sell free software bar codes to the people of Africa. He is now dead [kabissa.org]. You can't make a living from that.

      • by Tetsujin (103070)

        I remember Guido Sohne tried to sell free software bar codes to the people of Africa. He is now dead [kabissa.org]. You can't make a living from that.

        It's true; dyin' ain't much of a livin'...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sexconker (1179573)

      No, the fail here is morons still trying to use barcodes, QR codes, etc. when a simple hyperlink will suffice, look less retarded, take less space, be human-readable, etc.

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      Google and Amazon already have thousands of books scanned. All they would need is a photo of any _existing_ book page, do a ballpark OCR on it and fuzzy match the database.

      I think this is a great idea! You don't even need a whole page. I did a quick search for the next sentence in the book I was reading, and got a single hit (which was for the book I was reading). Not sure what to do with this data once we have it but it's certainly technically very plausible.
  • Bar none (Score:1, Redundant)

    by mcgrew (92797) *

    Photographing an image and uploading it sounds like more trouble than scanning a bar code to follow a URL

    Only if you have a bar code reader. I don't, but I do have a cameraphone. Easy enough to email a picture from my phone to my PC, not so easy to buy a bar code reader and carry it around with me all the time.

    • Re:Bar none (Score:4, Informative)

      by mspohr (589790) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @01:59PM (#32434792)
      ... or something like the BarCode Scanner application for Android which uses the camera to read 1d and 2d barcodes and takes you to the web page/ download/ web search/etc. This is really easy to use. Just point it at the barcode and it figures out what to do.
      • I showed a friend how to 'install' apps with this. He was blown away, no more typing in something archaic. Magazines could link directly to the App in their reviews. Google has also been including them for Checksums on code.google.com

        You could print them on business cards with all your data so that it didn't have to be entered manually...

  • Yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @01:31PM (#32434366) Homepage

    ...if you (like myself and my fiancee) are one of the few people out there that still appreciate dead-tree books, you are also likely one of those people that won't give a fuck about something like this.

    • by jgagnon (1663075)

      Well said. This is a solution looking for a problem and an audience.

      • I suspect it is a guy looking for investor capital.

        1. Show solution in search of a problem.
        2. Get investor capital.
        3. Buy new car and house.
        4. Hookers and blow
        5. ???
        6. Investors have shares of bankrupt company.
        7. Keep car and house. (Profit!!!)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        This is a solution looking for a problem and an audience.

        In the last Musician's Friend catalog, I noticed these embedded code-looking thingies that send you to a YouTube video of the guitar or keyboard or whatever being used if you simply take a picture with your mobile phone. I didn't bother, and I don't imagine most people are bothering.

        But still, if it enhances advertising, you can bet we're going to see these things everywhere soon. It used to be pron that drove tech innovation, but make no mistake, i

        • by jgagnon (1663075)

          I agree with what you are saying, I just don't think the solution in the main article is THE solution. As smart phones get more and more powerful, I think we can all agree that the future is very wide open and undefined.

    • ...if you (like myself and my fiancee) are one of the few people out there that still appreciate dead-tree books...

      Nitpicking, maybe... but you actually think that there are only a FEW people who still appreciate paper books? We must live in very different places, because even the nerdiest of my social circle (and I work in InfoSec) won't touch e-books with a ten foot pole.

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        Appreciate and still actively collect? Our social circle is filled with very like-minded people (into comics, video games, movies, pen and paper RPGs, etc.), and we are the only two who actively collect books (excluding comics...most of our friends do that, but I don't count comics and dead-tree books in the same category). Most of them still have books from when they were younger, but they don't currently still buy books on a regular basis.

        In fact, when we recently moved into our apartment two months ago

  • by 2names (531755)
    I have an idea that involves transmitting beeps on a wire that can then be translated into words. Every household will have a beep maker and a beep interpreter. It will rule.
  • Free (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @01:32PM (#32434388) Homepage Journal

    >> CueCat, the "free" (as in beer)

    More like, "free" (as in Gonorrhea)

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Gonorrhea cost $20 from any crack whore.

    • You have to have sex to get it? That's not fair! I want one!

    • by Delusion_ (56114)

      Note: the "free (as in beer)" comment is never going to be funny, no matter how many times you repeat it.

      • I think it's gone beyond the level of being funny to an informal way to add information to the communication.

        • by Ifandbut (1328775)

          But what information is it trying to add? I see "free (as in beer)" and "free (as in speech)" alot but I have yet to figure out what the difference is between them is.

          • Free (as in beer) means that it doesn't cost any money.

            Free (as in speech) means that you are free to do what you want.

            In terms of software, you can have software that has a restrictive license, but doesn't cost any money. This would be free as in beer.

            There is also software that costs money, but you are still free to modify the source code, and do whatever else you want with it. The best example of this that I can think of would be the various supported flavours of Linux. These would be free (as in speech)

  • This might actually be worthwhile one we have visual implants or some other way for processors to affect our eyes. But, until then it seems kinda pointless.

    However, when it DOES affect our eyes, I imagine pop-up ads will only get worse....

    • by 2names (531755)
      "However, when it DOES affect our eyes, I imagine pop-up ads will only get worse...."

      Absolutely. Every time you take a piss a Viagra ad will pop up.
  • has been doing this with QR codes in the magazine for a while now: http://streetstylz.blogspot.com/2009/08/technology-review-selects-neoreader.html [blogspot.com]
  • I still have mine

  • DRM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wjousts (1529427) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @01:37PM (#32434478)
    Brilliant! All they need to do is force you to register when you want to view the digital content with your photo of the relevant page and include a unique part to the code in the book (so it can't be registered again by a different person) and they've stamped out resales of printed text books too.
  • by John Whitley (6067) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @01:39PM (#32434510) Homepage

    *yawn* Guy takes standard QR codes, markets them against his specific web properties and/or mobile apps. Even the most steadfast of print publishers have cottoned on to the web by now. I have trouble imagining (and the ubimark site doesn't help) why a publisher would use this "platform" instead of just dropping in QR codes with URLs for the usual publisher-presented online offerings?

  • I've been thinking for a while that it would be terrific if printed books came with a free digital copy...

    Some kind wax scratch-off on the cover to reveal a unique serial number. Or maybe something generated at the register and printed on your receipt.

    I much prefer the digital copy for portability and general reading... But if it's a genuinely good book I'll wind up wanting a physical copy as well.

    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      For some things, like text books, manuals, howto type books, etc. having the paper and electronic version would be great. O'Reily did this with one of the "animal" Perl books - buy the one book, get all 6 on CD.

      For enjoyment reading I think I'll stick with a paper copy...

      • For enjoyment reading I think I'll stick with a paper copy...

        It really depends on the book.

        Lovecraftian stuff, to me, demands paper. So much of the background revolves around ancient tomes that it seems wrong to read it electronically.

        Stories that really play on the book theme, like Mister B. Gone [wikipedia.org] it again makes sense to have it in paper.

        For a lot of my books, it really doesn't matter so much either way. A paperback is plenty portable, as long as you're only carrying one or two around. When I'm away from home for a while though, it gets awkward to carry a pile of

    • by jgagnon (1663075)

      Even if it was a $0.99 digital copy, I can see many people going for it. Hell, Amazon should offer that where possible to generate sales for Kindle. Offer the Kindle version for free or low cost with the purchase of a paper copy. I'm honestly not sure if they're already doing this in some cases but I am sure they should. :p

  • The whole thing about having books is to have knowledge that is self-contained to a degree. If I want richer content, I search the web for it. Plus, a book stays in your shelf, but who knows how long the publisher will keep content around? it looks like an scheme for milking readers...
  • I still have my CueCat...couldn't think of a good use for it, it's still in the wrapper, even.

  • It sounds like they could instead just print "example.com/foo" and let you figure it out yourself.
  • My Nokia N95 (from 2-3 years ago) already can do this. On the "Office" menu, there's a Barcode application that uses the phone's camera to read 2D barcodes and decode them.

    There's a page about it here: http://n95blog.com/barcodes-and-barcode-reader-for-s60/ [n95blog.com]

    I just tried it, and it does work. The barcode on that page decodes to http://n95blog.com [n95blog.com]

    • This is in America and therefore real, whereas the Nokia was the rest of the world and therefore doesn't exist.

      He should patent it quick before anyone notices.

       

    • by vuo (156163)
      This is Upcode [www.upc.fi], a VTT project. I think this has been the next big thing for several years already, any day now we're supposed to have these in every magazine and so on.
  • We do this today with QR codes and smartphones. My Android handles this just fine. I've even gotten a QR off the window of a yogurt shop to send the location to Facebook friends.

    Sorry, professor, you're late to this party.

    ps- I messed around with CueCats a while a go, got a dozen for free. Hack the firmware and they were useful scanners. Took them apart and they got embedded in all kinds of stuff, from a keyboard to my back door. They did have issues, but like the i-Opener I had, cheap/free stuff was f

  • Who needs to photograph barcodes when SnapTell lets you photograph objects.
    http://www.snaptell.com/ [snaptell.com]

  • by allowing advertisers (or whoever) to put hyperlinks in printed material?

    It's easy enough to put a URL. By "hyperlink" I assume they mean something you can "press" (for some definition of press). But if you want a paper book are you the type of person who is going to want to take a photo with your phone to see extra details.

    And why not put the effort into a human-readable font that you can photo and follow? Then people can type it or photo it. And it can still have a book-specific ID. And maybe get the

  • "...a centralized Internet based interactive information suppository..." No? Just me, then. (Ouch.)
  • Doomed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @02:26PM (#32435202)

    If you've been watching the content business for a while, you get used to these things. Someone at the content-provider end of the business comes up with something that would be very beneficial to them while offering negligible benefits to the consumer, and then they spend a tremendous amount of energy trying to convince consumers that it's a good idea despite consumers' plainly seeing that it would be a pain in the ass with little or no reward. The :CueCat is, of course, the canonical example, but there are many more links in the chains of the Ghost of Stupid Business Plans Past.

    The best thing about this plan is that it's plainly aimed at traditionalists who don't care for the web, but what it offers them is an awkward way to get the web content they don't actually want on a tiny screen they probably don't even have, probably while bombarding them with advertising and collecting data about their reading and browsing habits. What's not to like?

    • by Sir Holo (531007)
      Mod this up! Brilliant.

      The best thing about this plan is that it's plainly aimed at traditionalists who don't care for the web, but what it offers them is an awkward way to get the web content they don't actually want on a tiny screen they probably don't even have, probably while bombarding them with advertising and collecting data about their reading and browsing habits. What's not to like?
  • People who prefer print books over e-books may still want extra digital material to go with them

    I really prefer e-books, and now I'm terrified that they could start adding ads to the e-books. I'm not so much worried by pop-ups, nasty as they can be, but by product placement. Imagine "One ring to rule them all (and you'll certainly rule if you buy a diamond ring to your girlfriend), one ring to find them...". Or Nero Wolfe drinking a particular brand of beer... The simple idea makes me shiver.

  • You take a photo of the book page with your smartphone, and then you get at once the embedded URL and a DMCA violation for taking an copy of a printed book page...
  • Ubimark answers... (Score:2, Informative)

    by ubimark (1824794)
    Great comments everyone, even if you are skeptical. A couple of comments. You can join Ubimark by simply commenting on our site. Comments will appear on the chapter web pages and will be available to anyone who scans the upper left corner codes. 2D codes are generated on the fly by the site. Users need not worry about this. 2d codes are a convenient, mature, existing tool that works well with the cell phones we carry in our pockets right now. OCR on the fly or other more sophisticated approaches would nee
  • I do this with my blackberry.
    It's a pretty easy way to add contacts, and you don't need to worry about mistyping their PIN.

    I'm surprised it isn't used more often.

    • by mebob (57853)

      What specifically are you doing? Generating the contact QR code on-screen on one phone and snapping a pic/scanning on the other?
      I know it's possible but the software I've tried for the storm is all very limited or slow. What software are you using?

  • But how long until some asshat makes these on stickers with the barcode leading directly to a malware infested page and puts the stickers on random products in stores?

  • People who prefer print books over e-books may still want extra digital material to go with them.

    They may, but that group is vanishingly small.
  • Just sayin. You could probably just look the shit by going to the company's website.
  • This tech has been in Japan for about 16 years in the form of the QR code

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code [wikipedia.org]

    And permeates the printed media in Japan. Even the burgers at McDonalds have QR codes on them linking to nutrition information about the product.

    The QR code is roughly the size of a postage stamp and can actually encode about 4000 alphanumeric characters, or about a page of text. not just limited to hypertext.

  • Hi everyone, It was a brilliant attempt to make the people alert of the things.. http://www.resumedictionary.com/ [resumedictionary.com]

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