The Graffiti Codes project aims to turn illustrations into data-carrying signals that can be drawn and read by iPhones.

While we’ve seen some creative uses of the QR code, as well as alternatives such as the sound-based Chirp, so far they have been limited to computer-generated images. Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab are hoping to create Graffiti Codes – turning hand-drawn paths on any surface into readable, data-carrying signals.

Rather than taking a photograph of the code with a QR-reading app, users simply move their phone over the path. The device’s accelerometer detects the pattern of the movement and is able to load the content that path is linked to. Because the method only reads the movement of the phone, the actual code itself can be drawn in any material, and on any surface. For example, a piece of graffiti could be encoded to direct users to information about its creation, or even enable oppressed communities to share information in secret.

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