TOKYO -- Japan's NTT has developed a digital watermarking technology to embed information in television broadcasts that viewers can access simply by pointing their smartphones at the screen.
The watermark pattern is not viewable with the naked eye, but the camera of a smartphone installed with a special app can capture the pattern, convert it back into text data and use this to link to a website that then downloads information for display on the phone.
How might this be used? People watching sports programs on TV could use their smartphones to view information about competitions and players. Companies advertising on TV could direct viewers to shopping sites. And since the technology also works on giant outdoor video displays, municipalities could use it to provide information to even foreign visitors, since the information could be downloaded to match the language setting of the smartphone.
Fujitsu and Mitsubishi Electric are also developing digital watermarking technologies, and advertising giant Dentsu has its own technology for linking TV commercials with smartphones. What sets the technology developed by NTT Media Intelligence Laboratories apart is its versatility. The watermark pattern can be captured and processed by the smartphone in as little as 1 second, even when the person is sitting at an angle of as much as 60 degrees to the side of the TV.
NTT hopes to have a service based on this technology ready in 2015. The NTT group will market the service to private companies and municipalities, charging a production fee to embed the watermarks in the video footage.