Bridging the two spaces (prep. for ICASSP 2009)

I was invited by Berna Erol to a panel discussion at ICASSP 2009 which will be held in Taipei, Taiwan in April 19th-24th 2009. (further information at: http://icassp09.com/)
My main topic will be related to “bridging the real space and the information space” as depicted in the picture below.

The point is clear and crisp where many mobile phones are now being equipped with various I/O devices and sensors, such as accelerometers, GPS, microphones, and cameras. These allow applications to be context-aware and enable easy integration of user's real environment wit applications. Mobile device's peripheral and sensor enhancement will be an extremely fertile incubation environment for new and innovative killer applications in our daily life. That definitely differentiates mobile Internet from fixed-line Internet of PCs. That is already happening in far-east countries, where mobile devices are evolving not as miniaturized mobile PCs but as devices with unprecedented capabilities.
2D barcode, called QR code, and its related applications are good instances in discussing the difference. A QR Code is a 2D matrix code created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. Let’s see one video shot which I shot two weeks ago.

Now you saw how the real object (i.e., a magazine page) is connected to the related portal site through the phone. The usage of the 2D barcode is not limited to magazines or published documents. Such a code can be attached with any real objects as far as those have a printable room. Here is another good example:when I was walking around Ginza (corresponding to the fifth street in N.Y.) in Tokyo. I found a big 2D bar code which introduced a company’s home page.
That was readable with my cell-phone!

Apart form the barcode approaches, connecting real objects with the internet by capturing a natural scene is on the way. Evolution Robotics, a US-based company, commercialized a visual search engine called “ER Search” on a line of camera phones. Here is another video which I shot two weeks ago.

That technology can search only a set of registered image patterns like CD jackets, magazine cover pages, etc. For my wine labels, the engine couldn’t retrieve my favorite California wine descriptions, although the technology was developed in California!

Now, we have a technical progress in bridging the two worlds: real and virtual on one hand. On the other hand, we are confront with a big technical challenge, which is authentication of visual tags such as the 2D barcodes or the registered images. You can imagine that malicious QR codes can be pasted over original QR codes. Those phony codes can lead phone users to wrong malicious sites. Phishing with phony QR codes now is going to be a big threat to our mobile society. The world is not simple.

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