TagMore monetises mobile 'barcodes'

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SEEDCAMP COVERAGE: In Japan and South Korea it is so common now for people to whip out their cell phones and use the camera to connect to online content from a newspaper or magazine that it is no longer commented on. This wave of adoption has yet to go mainstream in Europe or the US, but plenty of companies are trying to get in early before consumers arrive.

The technology – not unlike barcodes – is called “visual tags” and consists usually of black and white ink-blot style images which some reader software on the phone can use to link to a web page or other online service.

Until recently most companies trying to work with this techonology have based their strategy on the phone software. TagMore is, instead, going to attempt to put intelligence into the cloud which connects these mobile services.

In particular it aims to create a platform for the delivery of content and micropayments which publishers, retailers – you name it – can hook into. In fact, visual tags are set to become “the next Bluetooth” because there is no need to create a “handshake” with the phone since the response of the mobile to what its camera is seeing is almost instantaneous.

There already exists an ecosystem for the the creation of visual tags, as there are many open source systems, including Semacode, QR (Quick response), Qode, Spotcode, Shotcode and ColorCode. TagMore will allow any of these systems to be used, thus riding the wave of visual tagging (if TagMore succeeds, of course). Client reader software for the mobile includes Kaywa, QuickMark, among others.

What are the applications? Visual tags can be applied to absolutely anything, just like barcodes, so a visual tag on the back of a business card can prompt the mobile to put those contact details into the phone. You can put them on stickers. You name it. Anyone can generates these visual codes, but the question is, can you hook into a platform that monetises that transaction somehow?

TagMore could well be one of these firms that benefits from the MC2 (Mobile Codes Consortium) which involves Nokia, HP, Deustche Telekon, and advertising agencies like Publicis. This consortium is basically out to pre-install visual tag readers inside all mobiles globally from 2008, largely to create marketing opportunities.

Does TagMore have competitors? Perhaps not, so far at least. Abaxia in France has designed its software to create a subscription market for mobile tagging but this is a different business model.

Tagmore aims also to be able to allow people to order print products (perhaps they should partner with Moo?). The music download market is an opportunity here to get streaming previews of songs. Who needs an iPhone touch, huh?

  • http://blogfriends.i-together.com Jof Arnold

    The key to this is automation, otherwise it’s just a gimmick: if you look at the number of combinations permissible by a data matrix (I’m assuming that’s their approach, judging by the splash page) you’ll soon see that good old alpha-numerics can hold way more data in a given space.

    However, SMSing an alphanum code isn’t as cool as showing something to your phone and getting an instant response… provided it is indeed instant.

    There are definitely competitors in the datamatrix/phone space, including Motorola from memory, but I agree it’s not well-explored in Europe. I look forward to seeing how it all pans out.

    What resolution are they using? What number of colours?

  • Mike Butcher

    Jof – you’ll have to ask them about resolution, but I saw only a b/W demo tag, tot colour.

  • http://id.kaywa.com/roger Roger

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you for mentioning us. I also wanted to add that we offer way more than a reader;)

    http://api.qrcode.kaywa.com – our QR Code API with Live Statistics
    Personal codes for individuals at http://id.kaywa.com (alpha, version 0.5)

    Photos of our QR Code projects (with two japanese exceptions)

  • http://www.tagmore.com Alberto

    Jof, what do you mean with resolution? the platform can generate “visual tags” on any image size or color.

  • http://www.tagmore.com Henry@TagMore!


    The process of scanning a visual tag is as ‘frictionless’ as possible, but we are continuing to make improvements to the process. Essentially, it goes as follows:

    1) Open camera app on phone. The preinstalled reader has a floating ‘frame’ that you line up with the visual tag.

    2) Place the ‘frame’ over the tag. The camera does the rest – no need to press a button to take a picture or anything like that, and the capture rate is both fast (pretty much instantaneous) and accurate.

    3) The visual tag contains information readable by our platform i.e. the physical tag links to online content. For this, the user must connect to the TagMore! site via GPRS or whatever.

    The platform provides a means for micropayments to be taken when used in ‘retail platform’ mode and also a host of other uses we are currently exploring. We have two vertical markets that we are going to trial within the next 2 months, and aim to rapidly establish a user base in Europe.

    As for colours, the tags can be produced in colours, so long as there is at least 50% contrast between the tag hue and the background. The possibilities for customisation are numerous.

    Any more questions, please just ask :)

    Henry (TagMore.com)

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