Colorbit Brings Auto ID Technology to U.S.

Colorbit USA made its North American debut at RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition in Orlando, Fla., unveiling its color-based automatic identification technology.

Colorbit is a color-based automatic identification technology developed by B-Core Inc. of Tokyo. Using the patented code configuration and decoding software, it is possible to read up to several hundred tagged items simultaneously by capturing a single image, with sub-second decoding speeds. The solutions' rapid reading capability is suited for inventory management, asset management, quality assurance, anti-counterfeiting, and other applications, particularly on difficult-to-label surfaces and in environments where using traditional bar code labels or RFID tags may be challenging.

"Colorbit allows users to read hundreds of codes very quickly," said Colorbit USA managing partner, Jim Kast. "Using a webcam or a smartphone, you can take an image of a pallet load or even a room full of marked items and generate an accurate inventory list in a few seconds. And you can do so without worrying about bar code line spacing, label orientation, or print quality, and without the upfront costs and engineering challenges associated with RFID."

The Colorbit code is comprised of colored cells arranged in a continuous configuration. The contiguous elements are made up of one of three colors (red, green, and blue), and moving from one color to the next generates either a "1" or "0" bit. Using camera-based image processing technology, Colorbit's decoding software interprets the codes by tracing the transition from one color to the next. The shape and configuration of the code is very flexible, and the codes can be successfully read even if the line of elements is curved or otherwise distorted.

“Unlike bar codes, up to several hundred Colorbit codes can be scanned and read simultaneously with a single imager," said Colorbit USA Partner, Chris Anderson. “And unlike RFID, the Colorbit solution can pinpoint the location of a specific item in a group by identifying its presence in the captured image, and also provide read-many capabilities without the risk of RF interference and collisions."

The Colorbit solution has a high tolerance for reading damaged, faded, and poorly printed codes, providing advantages in applications where the labels may be exposed to harsh environmental conditions. The codes can also be painted onto uneven or rough surfaces, and can be read using almost any type of digital camera technology, including Web cameras, digital video cameras, smart phones, and machine vision equipment. The codes can even be generated using tri-color LED lights.

"The Colorbit software is extremely fast," Anderson continued. "It can examine the entire field of view of the image, wipe out the background, isolate the codes and decode them rapidly— in most cases, in less than a hundred milliseconds. The codes are also extremely durable. As long as you can make out the color sequence, you can read these codes."

The company is currently seeking North American distribution and integration partners to help bring the solution to market.
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