Using Color Codes to Browse the Web

Newsweek International, January 16, 2006 | Go to article overview

Using Color Codes to Browse the Web


Byline: Christian Caryl (With B. J. Lee in Seoul)

It's an advertiser's dream. Imagine you're sitting in your favorite cafe when something in the business pages catches your eye. That company you're reading about sounds intriguing. So you take out your mobile phone and focus the camera lens on a small splotch of color embedded in the corner of the article. Suddenly the phone's screen is displaying real-time stock prices and up-to-the-minute company headlines.

It's become a truism that the Internet is transforming the way businesses reach their customers. But among advertisers there's a nagging sense that the online world is still too disconnected from more traditional media, like print. For most users, gaining access to the Internet still means sitting in front of a computer and hammering away at a keyboard--a setup far removed from the experience of reading the morning paper or thumbing through a magazine. Advertisers would instead like to give print readers immediate access to the full range of Web-based information. Colorzip Media, a South Korea-based company, is one of the numerous small firms hoping to bridge this divide.

Colorzip's idea is to build on the pros of bar codes while shedding the cons. The intricate structure of bar codes makes them hard to read; scanners have to be close and precise. And if anything else gets in the way--an ad, for example--the scanner can't cope.

A few years ago Korean computer scientists came up with a new kind of code based on color patterns, which can be easily incorporated into company logos or other graphic designs. Colors are much easier for scanners to read, and they help users home in on the content. Colorzip codes have the added advantage of simplicity. Unlike a data-heavy bar code, all a Colorzip code communicates when it's scanned is an index, a pathway to content stored on a server. …

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