Vol. 5 Num 744 Sat. July 01, 2006  

Latest dot pattern tech from local grounds

Imagine a solution, where inputs for a computer can be anything other than the only two commonly accepted forms, the keyboard and mouse. Visual Magic Corporation Ltd (VMCL), a local engineering company, has been working on a solution for the last three years, under strict supervision from Visual Science Laboratory, Japan (VSLJ), and now their solution has faced the daylight, thanks to our very chic and endowed local engineers' effort.

The patented solution, which VMCL is calling by the name 'Grid Onput Dot Pattern Technology (GODPT)', originally idealised by Kenjii Yoshida, chairman of VSLJ, and practically performed by VMCL-team, comes in a package of two elements, a dot pattern, where a decimal number can be printed on a 2x2mm space in the form of tiny dots, and an associated scanner device that can read these dots and generate that number.

"This is, what I believe, is a breakthrough from the so far traditionally established ways with which multimedia purposes have been handled," said Mohammed Kamruzzaman, managing director of VMCL. Zaman also cited how conventional ways of a keyboard or a mouse for handling such targets may mostly pose operational problems for handicapped individuals or children.

"Pros and cons are present in all cases, but consider the small percentage of the consumer population compared to programmers, mass interaction for handling multimedia purposes, pursue greater chances on facing such problems," added Zaman, referring to how the daily-purpose keyboard has been designed for usage with all eight fingers on one's two hands.

"Consider a paperless office, which has been thought of some 30 years back, proper actualisation of which is still not a complete reality, as printed materials are still judged as a 'push-type medium' of presenting information," he said, further stating how in such presentation the information stays right at hand or at sight. However, space limitation is a vital minus-point for printed media. To ensure space assurance, web-technology comes in action, but than too, one has to get online and type in the whole web-address of the location he is trying to go to, browse from the very top-page of the host site, and go through all of what the site may have in content to look for a product that may have been put on advertisement, but well out of sight for the consumer, unless he finds it all on some link presented on the site. "So much to say about the cons of a print-less media," he observed.

Zaman also cited how 'drive to web' has lately become a favourite quotation in Europe and the United States, which claims that a consumer or a client always has to find his way to the web to communicate with a business conglomerate to attain a desired service, and hence pertaining all the fiddles that a print-less media may suggest. In this context, the dot pattern technology brings in the solution by unifying the merits of both the internet and the print media, where one may just touch a printed context with the grid dot prints laid on the printed material and the associated page opens up on his computer screen.

Dot patterns, which can be presented in a very small place and in the form of very tiny dots, can possibly be printed on graphic materials without hampering the original beauty of the content, and by distributing the same pattern repeatedly over a graphical object. The original decimal number can be retrieved by capturing the image from any portion of that printed graphic, and by analysing that captured image for the arrangement of the dots it is carrying.

"This arrangement, which is very much invisible to the naked eye, will certainly pose as a replacement for the barcode or a micro-barcode printed on a consumer product, a catalogue, an article where a cellular phone camera or a barcode scanner is used to retrieve data, such as price tags, product information, or even proof of authenticity presented within that code," Zaman said. He mentioned how due to their visibility, the number of printed barcodes on a single printable area is limited and hence affecting the design of the printing material.

The basic idea behind the dot patterns is a special arrangement of a collection of infrared-absorbing carbon ink dots. Some of these dots form grid-like structures and are called standard dots, while the remaining dots distributed in each grid are called information dots as they carry 2-bit data based on their relative position inside the grid. The distance between two consecutive grid-dots is 0.5mm and hence it is possible to represent a 32-bit number in a 2x2 block on printed materials, on top of which the dot grids are laid, and hence are carried on the printed materials.

"Considering all these data possibilities, and since each dot pattern is unique, the security characteristics presented by the pattern remains uniquely high," stated Zaman on prospects of dot pattern usage on passports or documents with such integrity.

Grid Onput solution requires non-carbon CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) inks for background printing and infrared (IR) absorbing carbon ink for dot pattern printing, while the scanner is a proprietary device that captures the dot pattern images from printed materials, using an infrared emitting light-emitting diode (LED) and an IR filter. The infrared emitted from the scanner is reflected by the background graphics, printed with non-carbon CMYK ink, but is absorbed by the carbon dots. IR filter lens only allows the reflected IR rays to pass and thus the dot scanner captures a dot-only image.

"It is possible to develop a wide range of products such as children books, product catalogues, game cards, security tags, map systems, paper keyboards using the dot pattern technology where the dot scanner will work as an input device and will add a new dimension in the world of technology," suggested Zaman.

The patented technology has a great scope of usage here in Bangladesh on various daily utility-items, and we may only wait to see it happen while VMCL team works further towards marketing the product in the local market and make it attain public and corporate interest.

(Clockwise from top) e-Scanner with mobile, Onoshi map, travel packer, e-Scanner Kit and security tag identifier