Fujitsu has recently introduced a new technology that could allow smartphone users to download data directly from TV screens, in a way that uses only their current hardware, and doesn’t block non-users from viewing the show.
At October’s Ceatec Japan 2012, held at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, Fujitsu demonstrated their new data transmission technology, which lets viewers access program or advertiser information using the cameras in their smartphones. The message information is encoded as variations in image brightness that are too faint for the naked eye to see, but which digital cameras can detect. These messages then act like QR codes, directing the smartphone to a related website or advertising offer, but without any symbols taking up screen space.
The as-yet-unnamed technology allows data to be transmitted at a rate of 16 bits/second, fast enough that users can access the links within two or three seconds. An additional advantage is that the message can be received from further away than with QR codes, and that the TV screen can be at an angle to the user. The technology requires that smartphones be equipped with special software capable of reading the messages, but this can be downloaded as an app and requires no hardware upgrades. Fujitsu aims to have the technology ready for practical application by 2013.
Just speculating, this could be an interesting gimmick for TV programs. Pointing a smartphone at the screen at specific moments during the show could direct viewers to ‘secret’ online content or grant access to exclusive promotions. I’m sure a creative game designer could also come up with some cool augmented reality applications for this technology.