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Acoustic Barcodes Are Scannable With Fingernails & Pens [Video]

Acoustic Barcodes Are Scannable With Fingernails & Pens [Video]

Etched patterns in plastic make music that also sends price data to your phone.

Yi Chen


A team from Carnegie Mellon University has come up with the concept design of acoustic barcodes where the bars are etched into a physical material such as wood, glass, stone, and plastic. A unique sound is produced by running a phone, fingernail, pen, or any hard-edged object across the barcode. A software app can process these waveforms to create and recognize the binary ID.

These barcodes can be in form of a sticker, or 3D printed and act like acoustic versions of QR codes, NFC, and RFID. One of the applications for this widget is that simple commands can be executed just by dragging the smartphone over the barcode. It’s also a great idea for retail stores by turning passive display objects into something more interactive. For example, a shopper can simply scratch the acoustic barcode to hear more information about the item or product.

Check out the video below to see the barcodes in action:

Acoustic Barcodes

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