Microsoft Tag: Hyperlinks in the Real World

Microsoft Research has developed an excellent system for creating mobile readable tags which encode URL’s.  Called Microsoft Tag, it can function as an interesting alternative to short codes.  The technology and its applications are explained in this video.

Microsoft Tag has recently become publicly available at  Visit to obtain a reader for most camera equipped smart phones.  Potential applications for media distribution, promotion, and advertising are vast.  For example, a band could enhance their show flyers with tags linking to online ticket offers and guest lists.  A couple of years ago I experimented with Semacode, a similar technology, to develop demos showing how tags could be used to distribute music videos and film trailers.

Demo 1: Music Video Distribution With Visual Tags

Demo 2: Film Trailer Distribution With Visual Tags

Video Ads: The Next Generation

Recently, I have run across two technologies that have potential for giving web video advertisers options beyond the widely used preroll, postroll, and overlay ads. The first is from a company called Innovid which enables the integration of clickable virtual products and ad messages into the content of a video scene.  For example, a jewelry advertiser could insert clickable rings and necklaces on a table.

The second is Zunavision, a spin off from the Stanford Artificial Intelligence LabZunavision’s technology allows advertisters to place ads onto the sides of buildings, walls, and other surfaces.  I was very impressed by its ease of use.

Zunavision Demo Video

The Purpose of Laboratory4

In the early 1990’s, the term “digital convergence” emerged to refer in part to the imminent integration of networked computing systems and television.  Despite industry and consumer enthusiasm, this process took far longer than many of us hoped.  Legal hurdles, regulatory complexities, technological limitations, and infrastructure issues significantly slowed progress.  Finally in 2009 with the explosive growth of internet delivered video in all its forms, we can argue that the initial stage of digital convergence is complete.

We are now faced with new challenges.  An astounding set of powerful media devices, platforms, and services have become available which present new possibilities for how we interact with media.  At the same time, questions regarding monetization and consumer adoption of these new capabilities remain largely unanswered.

Laboratory4 will discuss and track interactive media technology trends as we travel the road to define the next stage of digital media convergence, one will that will likely focus less on the delivery of media, but more upon how we interact with it.

Topics will span a variety of areas related to advanced interactive media technologies including:

Mobile Platforms and Services: There are well over 3 billion mobile phones available for use in the world today.  Many of them are powerful, internet connected multimedia computers. How can these nearly ubiquitous computing devices be leveraged to create new ways of interacting with and experiencing media?

The New Music Industry: Physical music sales are nearly dead.  An enormous amount of music content can be found free online.  Blogs and social networks are replacing the radio DJ as tastemaker.  What technologies and services will further evolve how music is experienced and created?

The Transformation of Film and Television: The movie and tv industry is going through the same painful process of change that the music industry was thrust into a decade ago.  What role will new technologies play as this business struggles to adapt?

Emerging Technologies: Augmented reality, online virtual worlds, 3D displays, micro projectors, perceptual user interfaces, and other advanced technologies have enormous potential.  What role will they play?

Business Models: How can new and existing technologies and services be packaged to provide sustainable revenue streams?

The journey ahead is complex and risky.  For those of us inspired to embark upon it, opportunities for true innovation await.


Jarrell Pair