RE: Bar-coding the Real World with URLs

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From: Dan Brickley (
Date: Thu May 04 2000 - 16:21:45 PDT

Excellent, just what I was after -- well, the hardware side of it
anyway. Would rather hack the software together myself. Pricing etc not
yet available -- hope the hardware's available separately (or from
another supplier).

This fits very well with a freeform Lifestreams-y approach to
metadata for managing the daily infospew. When stuff happens, slap a
unique ID and datestamp on electronic entities and a little sticky label
on physical entities. If I were a printer/photocopier company I'd be
wondering how to attach these little label thingies to dead tree output
at source... Right now my printouts often have semi-useful
"http://etc" captions in the top right. Much nicer to have a magic label
that keys it into a my database of things I know I've printed, so I could set
about useful tasks like finding the most recent copy of the XLink spec
I've got lying around... (rather than re-printing it for the nth time)

Getting a bit idealistic maybe... If anyone finds somewhere to buy the
basic hardware from, do let us know.


On Thu, 4 May 2000, jeremie kass wrote:

> check out
> These folks ( are doing it with little RFID
> tags.
> A German software firm has come up with a paradoxically high tech
> solution to the decidedly low tech problem of organizing all that
> solution to the decidedly low tech problem of organizing all that
> paper. Findentity, a system produced by Berlin-based Thax Software
> (, lets office workers track and locate any
> letter, file, or photo in the office. It works like this: Every piece of
> paper to be tracked is "marked" with a transponder, a
> postage-stamp-sized sticker embedded with a chip that can store and
> send a 32-bit identification number. Users then install a local
> positioning net, a series of antennas strategically placed in doorways
> and underneath desks. When a file goes AWOL, the antennas home in
> on the missing document's transponder. The signal bounces back to a
> PC, where the software calls up a map of the office and points to the
> file with a flashing arrow. An optional ceiling-mounted laser beam
> can even spotlight the missing file. Businesses with multiple branch
> can track files by using Findentity in conjunction with the Net.
> On Thu, 4 May 2000, Dan Brickley wrote:
> >
> > 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...
> >
> > Dan
> >
> >
> > 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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