By Denny Curtis... Microsoft, undoubtedly the best known software company in the world, has combined your mobile smart phone, the internet and printed material by creating an interactive 2D barcode reader that adds a whole new dimension to printed material. This new service is called 'Microsoft Tag and it has the potential to change the world as we know it because it changes printed material into interactive services that bring flat printed articles to life. You can download this exciting application right now ¦ for free!
Where can you get this new software? You can download it to your smart phone by going to the Microsoft website and following the directions or you can download the tagreader application only at gettag.mobi.
The official MS announcement webpage is located at here and I would recommend that you review the material on the Microsoft webpage before making the decision to proceed. This application may not be for everyone but being from Microsoft I think that someday the vast majority of people will be using it if they have the correct hardware. Here is what you will need to get started today:
1. A smart phone with a camera and WIFI, or internet access,
2. A data plan, preferably with unlimited downloads, or have an WIFI enabled phone and be in a WIFI hot spot,
3. The free application, provided by Microsoft for your model of cell phone,
4. A free account on the Microsoft Tag webpage.
Phones using the following OS types should work with this application:
2. Blackberry, including the Storm,
5. Java 2 Micro Edition
8. And any Windows OS based phone.
This application only works for smart phones that have access to the internet. This means you need to be in a WIFI hot spot (and have a WIFI enabled phone) or have a smart phone with mobile high speed internet access in order to use it. This may limit the initial use of the Microsoft Tag product but as time goes on more and more people will have this ability. If you already have a hotmail or 'Live account you are set to just sign in. The website is cleaver enough to know if you already signed up with Microsoft and signs you in directly, however, if you do not have one of the Microsoft email provided accounts then you will need to 'sign up; at no cost, of course.
Loading the application could not be easier, all you need to do is click on 'get it for your phone on the Microsoft.com/tag webpage and that links to a page that allows you to enter your cell phone number for an SMS message that enables you to download the 'OTA (over the air) application or it can direct to a link from your cell phone browser to the website for downloading without using a provided SMS linkage. The application is free but your service provider may charge for data services or text messages as a result of the download. Not only can you download the software to scan the new 2D barcodes from the Microsoft website but you can also link to the website that creates them!
The bar codes themselves can be in color or in black & white, it's your choice. If you are very handy you can even create a custom barcode that looks like a small picture or clip art. This does not look easy to me but I'm sure many of you can create very impressive art using this technology. The barcodes can also be created in a verity of formats including PDF and JPEG for ease of use. Remember to always test a sample of the printed material to ensure it still works before you place a full printing order.
The barcodes can be as small as ¾ of an inch to as large as 10 feet square and they are easy to create. After you design the link using the 'Create a Tag button you are brought back to the initial page, on that page you will see a 'Render button on the same line as the tag you just created. Hit the button and choose the size, color, file type and type of barcode you want. The barcode is then made available in a pop up window to be saved on your local computer to be used later in creating the advertisement for printing. Most of the Microsoft products, such as Word or PowerPoint, are able to use the barcodes.
Imagine, if you will, going to a community bulletin board and looking at the ads placed there. If one of the ads has a Microsoft 2D bar code placed on it; all you need to do is pull out your trusty smart phone, click on the Microsoft application called 'tagreader and take a snapshot of the barcode using the phone's camera (the application connects the software to the cam so you don't have to do anything special). The smart phone then automatically links to a designated URL, defined by the creator of the bar code, that has much more information and possibly a video of what is being sold. If that is not enough, think of handing out a business card that has a MS tag on it. The person receiving the card simply takes a snapshot of the barcode and the Microsoft application enters your information on their phone's contacts list, much like a Vcard! Another possibility is a restaurant ad with a barcode in a magazine that links to an on-line reservations web page or a printed game advertisement that has a video of the game being played. The list is endless of how this software can be used.
I have high speed internet available on my Blackberry Storm and the application works great! Giving it a rating system of 1 to 10, with 10 being the very best, I would give this application an 8. It's not perfect but it is by far the best thing I have seen for smart phones and printed material. This is a Microsoft product and if the smart phone you have does not already have the application available it may be available soon so check the official website often for updates. If you want to see it in action link to YouTube and put 'Microsoft Tag into the search bar and view the videos available.
1. It makes flat, printed material interactive,
2. most of the current smart phones have the application ready to go,
3. it is from Microsoft, a trusted software company,
4. it is simple to use,
5. best of all, it is free!
1. Only smart phones with a camera can download and run the application,
2. You will need to be in a WIFI hotspot with a WIFI enabled phone or have internet access from your smart phone in order to use it,
3. the application is a fairly large for a mobile device and could take more memory storage than you may have available.
If you Twitter look for Microsofttag and start following. On Facebook search for Microsoft Tag and become a fan, or, join the group.
There you have it. A new exciting technology from Microsoft that is largely undiscovered but is set to make a big impact on printed material in the not too distant future. Be the first on your block to use it and enjoy!
By the way, the barcode on this article does work and directs you to the www.microsoft.com/tag web page. Give it a try!
About the author: Denny Curtis is a senior systems analyst and has volunteered this article and does not work or receive any compensation from Microsoft or any other business. The article was created for your reading and experimenting pleasure only.