Making a Marc
Digimarc's MediaBridge fastens print advertising to the Internet.
It used to be that beaming anything up was a product of science fiction, not the real world. But things have changed. And in July, Digimarc's MediaBridge will debut in Wired magazine, creating a vehicle for Internet-enabled advertisements to go from print to the Web in one step. Digimarc is banking on a forecast estimating that more people will own digital imaging devices at home and that accessibility to the technology will encourage consumers to scan in rather than type out.
Even without the use of search engines, directories or portals, getting to the Internet has never been so easy, according to Digimarc. MediaBridge, works by allowing printed materials—such as magazines, direct mailers, credit cards, catalogs and tickets—to become portals to the Internet. At the creative stages, digital watermarks are imperceptibly embedded on hard copy. Once printed, the watermarked material directly links viewers to Web destinations by launching Web-based applications that are read by image-capture devices, such as scanners or digital cameras. The Web pages, a value-added resource, are specified by the owners of the content. For example, when readers turn to Ford Motor Company's advertisements in Wired this summer, they will see the Digimarc logo denoting that it's MediaBridge-enabled. By holding the ad up to a tethered digital camera, the reader will be taken directly to the Ford Web site. The embedded data literally creates a bridge between traditional and online media through the image capture devices that are connected to personal computers.
Homegrown in Lake Oswego, OR, Digimarc CEO Bruce Davis says, "We hope to be ubiquitous … Word's getting around."
Not only does Davis promise a new wave in communications, but the technology has been used to provide solutions for copyrighting by deterring counterfeiting, piracy and unauthorized uses of content. Davis says that watermarks are undetectable, but operate in analog and digital environments, initially inspired by an industry-wide concern among professional photographers who worry about copyright infringement.