RE: Bar-coding the Real World with URLs

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From: Dan Brickley (
Date: Thu May 04 2000 - 14:42:17 PDT

Resisting the urge to witter on about how I thought this up 5 years ago
but fell asleep reading barcode specs and got distracted, this reminds
me of another someday gadget that I'm determined not to forget (because
I really need it to exist!):

Long story short. I want a way not only of uniquely IDing all the junk
(papers, books, CDs, videos etc) lying around home and office, but of
finding the damn things when I want them. That means putting them down
anywhere, then asking my local Web where I left them. I know how to do
the metadata part, that's the easy bit. But the hardware side of it I've
not done a tech review on. I want there to exist something cheap and
unencumbered by silly US patents which allows a networked device to
locate nearby objects given their identifier.

eg: Q: "where did I put that book I borrowed from Martin last year"
    A: ??? (coordinates I guess; or geiger-counter style gadget
      that beeped more frequently as I approach its location... whatever)

So I'm after something with cheap, unubtrusive little labels (like
shops/libraries use to stop you stealing stuff) that are uniquely IDs
and whose exact location can be detected by some cheap, unobtrusive
little box I can hook into a PC. It'd need to be suitable for attaching
little ID/labels to all the printouts, photocopies etc I've lying
around, in filing cabinets etc.

Someone please tell me this is feasible...


On Thu, 4 May 2000, Jim Whitehead wrote:

> One of the major impacts this technology could have is allowing every single
> item to have its own barcoded URL. In fact, I think it would be neat if
> every single item we bought, over a certain size, had a URL that pointed to:
> * a desrciption of what the object does
> * specifications of the object
> * any consumer recalls of the object
> * safety information on the object
> * how to repair the object (or how to locate someone who will repair it)
> * how to recycle the object
> * how to safely dispose of the object
> * description of how to locate a secondary market where the item could be
> sold
> In fact, I would be in favor of legislation that made providing and
> maintaining this information mandatory for every object over $5 (or some
> other very small number).
> - Jim

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