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The carbon footprint of mining operations has become a prominent topic for investors and downstream industries as well as in regulatory guidelines, thus translating an environmental risk into a business risk as well. In fact, greenhouse gas emission reporting and reduction targets have recently emerged as one of the most prevalent issues in the mining and metals sector EY Importantly, global policy changes related to climate change do not only follow a green, but also an economic agenda.
This reflects the expected impact of climate change on economic growth and income inequality e. The latter is still mainly regulated at the national level. International efforts directly targeting the mining sector rather follow a soft-law approach, e.
An increasing momentum for new regulations affecting responsible mineral sourcing has been observed in recent years. Drawing on the longer-term implementation experience and impacts associated with due diligence measures established since , therefore, constitutes an important benchmark for recent and upcoming regulations. Implementation is further influenced by the industry initiatives that are aligned with, were often catalysed by, and contribute to operationalising these regulatory frameworks Young ; OECD a.
The implementation analysis of these frameworks as presented below focuses on the ASM sector and the mining conditions in Central Africa, in particular in the DRC. It is important to note, though, that the regulations apply to the large-scale industrial mining sector as well, and may in particular affect the interactions of large-scale mining companies with artisanal miners in their sphere of influence.
The US Dodd-Frank act and the EU regulation on supply chain due diligence for conflict minerals differ in a number of key points but share the ultimate objective of reducing conflict financing via the illegal taxation of tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold mining and trade e. Accordingly, conflict developments in the eastern DRC represent a key indicator to evaluate the impact of these regulations.
In triggering a large-scale shift from henceforth tighter-controlled artisanal mining of tin and tantalum towards uncontrolled artisanal gold mining, it may indirectly even have led to a deteriorating security situation and increasing vulnerabilities for the local Congolese population in some areas Parker and Vadheim ; Stoop et al. Indeed, a recent analysis of conflict intensity in the DRC between and found that the number of conflict events and civilian fatalities has never been higher than in the most recent years Hanai At the same time, there is broad agreement that conflict financing related to the illegal taxation of artisanal mining and trading activities is a symptom, rather than a root cause of the DRC conflict.
Due diligence implementation is first and foremost a responsibility for companies to implement proper risk management in conflict-affected and high-risk areas such as the DRC, whereas it is not designed to directly solve the underlying conflicts Salter and Mthembu-Salter In order to address the latter, due diligence regulations and initiatives need to be embedded into a larger approach of governance, mining, and security sector reform in the DRC, combined with creating local economic development perspectives e.
Anticipating these dynamics, the Dodd-Frank act includes provisions seeking to stimulate reform efforts and local development, and the EU conflict mineral policy design shows a similar approach. However, while private sector-led due diligence implementation has advanced at a global scale, broader sector reforms, and supportive policy interventions in the DRC and other affected countries are lagging behind or have failed.
It would be misleading, however, to conclude from the above observations that due diligence implementation along mineral supply chains did not create any impact on the local security situation. At the same time, they highlight that illegal taxation as well as other due diligence risks are significantly lower in areas where due diligence initiatives have been implemented, mainly in tin and tantalum mining areas.
The latter is exacerbated by the lack of effective controls of due diligence requirements in the United Arab Emirates, the most important midstream market for artisanal gold from Africa e. While some authors see these developments as direct consequences of the Dodd-Frank act, others argue that the regulation at least reinforced already detrimental DRC mining sector dynamics, such as the lack of sector reform and a biased formalisation approach to artisanal mining Cuvelier et al.
A range of authors argue that the above narrative on unintended consequences and negative impacts may misread the supply chain due diligence engagement concept and overemphasises the role of the Dodd-Frank act versus other influencing factors.
A focus on short-term impacts without acknowledging longer-term changes through time might then rather serve certain corporate interests to discredit established reporting requirements e. For example, it has been well established that several large international tin and tantalum buyers disengaged from the DRC in the period, creating concerns for the local hardships resulting from this limited de facto embargo Geenen ; Seay This development reflects general commodity market demand trends in combination with the newly introduced supply chain due diligence engagement concept, deemed acceptable by both regulators and the industry itself.
However, complying with international risk management expectations is easier for those local ASM operations that show well-established organisational structures and legal production means, while weakly organised illegal ASM producers are marginalised further Diemel and Hilhorst Speaking to the needs of a broad range of stakeholders, voluntary mining and sustainability initiatives provide a bridge between international regulations and national laws. Representing either multi-stakeholder initiatives or, essentially, a means of industry self-regulation, these initiatives take up existing or anticipated future market and regulatory requirements with regard to mining and mineral supply chain standards.
While international regulations related to responsible mineral supply chains established over the past decade tend to focus on human rights violations and due diligence procedures, frequently connected to social problems in the ASM sector, voluntary initiatives usually target a broader range of sustainability topics.
These pertain to both the ASM sector and large-scale industrial mining, but global implementation is significantly more advanced in the latter sector. For this reason, this chapter largely focuses on initiatives in industrial mining, but supply chain initiatives partly connected to ASM suppliers are considered as well.
The following overview initially presents a selection of initiatives that pertain to the mine site level before moving on to initiatives that encompass the whole mineral supply chain. Grey bars indicate implementation or applicability periods; light grey bars indicate consultation and development phases; updates of standard versions are marked in dark grey; hatched grey bars indicate continuous standard updates, at least every 2 years.
Time periods were compiled based on web information published by the respective organisations and industry initiatives. Similar to international regulations, the mining sector is influenced by both cross-sectoral as well as sector-specific voluntary initiatives. Initially established in the late s, internationally acknowledged cross-sectoral standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative GRI or the Environmental and Social Performance Standards of the International Finance Cooperation IFC are widely used for sustainability reporting and social and environmental risk management, respectively.
Investors and lenders represent a key target audience for these standards, but other stakeholders and the general public may rely on them as well. With semi-regular updates, these standards incorporate a broad range of sustainability issues, including recent developments such as disclosure on carbon emissions. They are applied by a broad range of major mining companies worldwide, irrespective of commodity type.
High public concerns on the sustainability impacts associated with mining and, more recently, expectations towards mining companies to move beyond reporting and risk management have given rise to additional sector-specific sustainability initiatives. These are meant to enable a higher degree of transparency on operational performance, provide more specific information, and variably include an independent assurance process Jenkins and Yakovleva ; de Villier et al.
The momentum for voluntary sustainability initiatives and the associated development of guidelines specifically designed for the mining sector may be traced back to public discussions following a number of environmental incidents in the s that spurred societal anti-mining movements Franks One follow-up of these discussions was the founding of the International Council of Mining and Metals ICMM in , leading to the first international industry framework to address negative social and environmental impacts in mining.
Unlike ICMM, the TSM approach, through its national platforms, involves not only large players in the mining sector but all mining companies operating in the country. Promoting country-wide performance improvement in the mining industry has been a major driver for the uptake of the TSM model by all national mining associations that adopted the scheme to date.
Additional reasons applying in some countries include enhancing societal acceptance, increasing assurance and transparency, and facilitating investment and economic growth Table 2. Interestingly, even for countries with an advanced and comprehensive national regulatory framework for mining, such as Australia, the adoption of TSM was motivated by stakeholder expectations to increase transparency and accountability in the mining industry.
Improving relationships with communities is a major driver for engaging in sustainability schemes Mori Junior and Ali However, the aim to increase trust and societal acceptance of the mining industry is difficult to achieve. An analysis of the TSM approach implemented in Spain and in Finland shows that, so far, the process has not led to increased societal acceptance of mining Lesser This may reflect an insufficient time period to achieve sufficient implementation progress, but may also be related to the need for a joint effort including society and governments as well as a continuous dialogue to build credibility and trust.
This challenge might be reflected in critical views on the TSM approach where mining companies may choose on their own on what to report and addressing only corporate policies and management systems while excluding actual operational performance Kuyek Recent developments within the TSM framework have taken up this criticism, for instance by introducing an external verification mechanism in Moving beyond the mine site level, the earliest engagement of downstream supply chain stakeholders, from manufacturers to end producers, took place in the jewellery sector, referring to diamonds and gold in particular.
Initiatives in this and later on other sectors emerged on the backdrop of early international debates on conflict financing and severe human rights violations associated with mining and mineral trade. However, beyond documentation of origin and demonstration of conflict-free status as far as non-state actors are concerned, it did not impose any additional sustainability requirements. Soon thereafter, in , the Responsible Jewellery Council was formed, with an objective to provide assurance for a broad scale of social and environmental requirements in the jewellery supply chain in particular gold and precious stones from industrial mining to manufacturing.
In parallel, an initial Fairmined Standard for Gold was presented in , targeting the certification of ASM operations against environmental and social standards, with a view to marketing certified artisanal gold in jewellery supply chains. Itassesses RMAP standard compliance through third party audits at the smelter or refinery level, as this location naturally represents the choke point of metal supply chains.
The RMI has identified around smelters and refiners of so-called conflict minerals worldwide, out of which about were participating in the RMAP program at the time of research RMI In , following reports on child labour in artisanal cobalt supply chains from the DRC, RMAP adopted an additional standard for cobalt refiners. When the London Metal Exchange LME announced the introduction of responsible sourcing requirements in , this increased the momentum for the development of additional initiatives covering LME-listed brands, and the uptake of the related due diligence requirements for relevant commodities such as aluminium and copper ASI ; The Copper Mark This may help them preparing for anticipated regulatory requirements as well as meeting the current social and environmental requirements expected for LME brands from onwards LME However, apart from responsible supply chains, resource efficiency and circularity are major pillars of raw material sourcing and diversification strategies, especially with regard to critical raw materials e.
Therefore, it may be expected that the life cycle approach will gain more relevance in the development of current and new sustainability initiatives. This particularly applies to those initiatives that are relevant for strategic and critical raw materials, such as the rare earth elements or battery metals. For example, on-going European legislative developments that address the life cycle of batteries might drive initiatives to include life cycle approaches in the future.
However, based on general guidance documents such as those provided by the OECD, most initiatives tend to focus on a risk-based approach in supply chain management, in particular as far as human rights violations and, to a lesser extent, health and safety are concerned. Other sustainability issues such as local value generation and local development are less addressed by these initiatives Franken et al.
This lack of local ownership is reflected in the findings of the yearly reports of the Responsible Mining Foundation, where companies overall score lowest on the issue of community wellbeing, in contrast to environmental or safety issues RMF Most major international mining companies are members of voluntary sustainability initiatives Table 3 and have subscribed to their respective reporting and assurance requirements.
A result of these activities is enhanced transparency on selected sustainability parameters, initially at the corporate level and increasingly at the project level and along the supply chain as well e. A range of initiatives have started disclosing performance results at the level of individual certified or assessed operational sites e.
Furthermore, reporting based on monitoring frameworks increasingly includes the site level as well, as exemplified by the Responsible Mining Index or the Global Tailings Review, an international monitoring initiative founded by ICMM, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Principles for Responsible Investment in As far as the supply chain is concerned, a lack of transparency has been identified as a major obstacle for downstream actors to assess responsible sourcing practice among their suppliers e.
Significant progress in this regard may be observed in the conflict mineral sector. Notwithstanding selective progress in terms of sustainability disclosures, challenges remain. On the one hand, this concerns the degree of granularity and dissemination of reported results. Better access to data and to the detailed results of assurance processes could help to increase transparency further Mori Junior and Ali On the other hand, the level of disclosure in reporting frameworks e.
While there is some progress, site-specific reporting is not yet the norm and most disclosures still take place at the corporate level. Since environmental and social impacts mostly occur at the site level, this may lead to a mismatch of information Mancini and Sala Also, most initiatives formulate management rather than performance requirements which make it difficult to assess impacts and sustainability contributions Mori Junior et al. Consequently, the broad uptake and more standardised sustainability reporting and disclosure in the mining industry do not necessarily serve as a sufficient indicator for company performance and actual sustainability impacts de Villier et al.
Some initiatives, such as TSM, envisage to eventually increase performance across the whole mining sector. For these initiatives, there may be a certain incentive to increase their membership base and thus not to be too hard on low performers at the entry stage, allowing for more time to achieve certain compliance levels at a later stage Mori Junior and Ali This approach is mirrored by some certification schemes such as the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance IRMA that introduced later on progressive performance levels to facilitate participation of mining companies.
Most sustainability initiatives have been developed and applied by mining companies headquartered in OECD countries. Chinese companies, on the other hand, operating as major mining producers in China or abroad, are currently not often participating in these schemes, with few exceptions e.
This also applies to some other non-OECD jurisdictions. As a result, information on environmental and social standards applied in the large Chinese mining sector is, for the most part, difficult to obtain for international supply chain stakeholders. In contrast, Chinese companies involved in mineral processing and further downstream seem to engage more frequently in supply chain schemes such as the RMAP and cobalt sourcing initiatives.
The role of industry-led sustainability or responsible sourcing initiatives for supporting companies to conduct due diligence in their mineral supply chains is acknowledged and referenced in the OECD due diligence guidance and the EU regulation on conflict minerals OECD ; European Commission a ;. It is important to note, though, that the OECD due diligence guidance defines company participation in such initiatives as a supporting measure which does not exempt a given company from conducting its own due diligence process.
The company itself always bears the ultimate responsibility for its operations and supply chains and their compliance with national and international regulations. This mirrors a common concern raised by civil society, emphasising that the mere participation in sustainability initiatives is not sufficient for a company to address its social and environmental risks Sydow and Reichwein This is exemplified by the Brumadinho tailings dam breach in , the most disastrous accident in the Brazilian mining sector to date Silva Rotta et al.
This did not only lead to dam failure and its tragic consequences but also resulted in a massive destruction of shareholder value in the end, the operating result being 8. Being effective, transparent and accountable may be regarded as a prerequisite for initiatives to be successful, but they also need to demonstrate positive social, environmental and economic outcomes Mori Junior et al.
When it comes to moving beyond risk management and inducing local development the possible limitations of sustainability initiatives become evident Stark and Levin ; Hilson et al. Similarly, although the Sustainable Development Goals are today widely taken up in company reporting, policies and government frameworks, there may still be a need to turn the risk mitigation agenda into a more development-oriented agenda Ivic et al. In line with this notion, there is frequently a gap between comprehensive sustainability reporting and local implementation efforts RMF As early as two decades ago, Hilson and Murck stated that companies need to put sustainability strategies more into practice.
Until today, sustainability efforts in the mining sector, be it by corporate action or through international initiatives, are perceived as creating insufficient benefits for local communities Frederiksen Indeed, pursuing a Social License to Operate has been at the heart of mining industry strategies during the last two decades Humphreys ; Joyce and Thomson ; Thomson and Boutilier And yet, it seems that social challenges are often far from being resolved and the concepts employed so far might not have been sufficiently successful in reducing negative social impacts.
Although there has been some progress with regard to corporate social responsibility, that is, contributing to sustainable development beyond regulatory requirements at a local level, the global dimension of managing and demonstrating sustainable practise is only progressing slowly Rodrigues and Mendes However, national and local governments play a major role in this process, as they set the legal and fiscal frameworks as well as national and local development strategies.
Confidence in national government institutions and their regulatory capacities plays an important role in moderating impact factors influencing the acceptance of mining Zhang and Moffat Transparency and accountability, enforcement of governance frameworks as well as combatting corruption are key elements to generate sustainable development in the extractive sector Pedro et al. This finding points to the mutual influences of implementation challenges between national and international sustainability efforts in the mining sector.
The current implementation of international regulations and voluntary mining sector initiatives is characterised by a range of challenges in terms of implementation effectiveness and impact generation. These may be considered for the design or review of further regulations, initiatives, and associated policy efforts. At first glance, due diligence regulations may be regarded as a successful blueprint for addressing social and environmental challenges in mineral supply chains.
Indeed, it has been demonstrated that their implementation is feasible and has led to positive outcomes, such as improved supply chain transparency. At the same time, however, the implicit objectives of such regulations have not been fully met as far as conflict financing in Central Africa is concerned.
The link between the illegal exploitation of natural resources and armed group financing has not been broken, and civilian conflict casualties are higher than ever e. Moreover, the regulations have created hardships for certain parts of the local population. These challenges were encountered for a number of reasons.
Implementation of the regulations in the Central African upstream mineral supply chain, largely referring to the ASM sector, did not encounter a level playing field at the local level. Remote local production regions and weakly organised ASM producers encountered challenges, financing models to absorb implementation costs lacked robustness, and local solution ownership was low.
International conflict mineral initiatives were imposed upon the affected local stakeholders in Central Africa with only minor consultation. The parallel lack of a level playing field with regard to international mineral buyer requirements allowed armed groups in the DRC to employ evasive strategies, namely to move away from illegal taxation in the tin and tantalum sector to focus on the local gold sector.
This move was mainly made possible due to the lack of robust downstream due diligence requirements and controls on artisanal gold purchases in the United Arab Emirates. Implicit risks such as smuggling may therefore be lower than in the conflict mineral space. Nonetheless, care must be taken to avoid triggering two-class markets for commodities such as nickel or cobalt, or for certain product subgroups e. Leveraging and seeking alignment with already established standards such as the Chinese guidelines for social responsibility in outbound mining investments CCCMC may provide opportunities to develop a concerted approach among Western and Chinese stakeholders and, hence, obtain higher market penetration of due diligence control procedures.
The significance as well as the challenges of implementing supporting measures and embedding new regulations into a larger framework of local reform policies should not be underestimated. These refer, for example, to lacking incentives for policy reforms, differing policy priorities, as well as uncertain macro-impacts such as commodity price developments or local currency depreciation e. Comparable factors may apply not only to artisanal but also to industrial mining elsewhere, considering the broad range of sustainability impacts generated by mining activities.
Industry-led or multi-stakeholder sustainability initiatives play a supporting role in addressing environmental and social risks in mineral supply chains, but they also show limitations. Among others, the initiatives are useful in formulating and harmonising sustainability expectations, increasingly in line with downstream supply chain requirements, allowing mining companies to adopt these in their corporate policy framework.
Following this exercise, however, there still seems to be a gap in terms of implementation and performance. As the Brumadinho tailings dam failure shows, a focus on optimising short-term financial results may reduce effective corporate sustainability risk assessments and management, a deficit that might lead to problematic or even catastrophic social and environmental incidents in the longer term.
In general, there seems to be a need for more comprehensive social and environmental risk assessments Franks et al. More transparency on the audit results and the assessment of performance and site-related social and environmental impacts in the framework of international initiatives may help addressing this gap. This could also support generating trust in company management as well as government agencies, a prerequisite for a meaningful dialogue on environmental and social impacts Mori Junior et al.
Company engagement in sustainability initiatives should support generating positive environmental, social and economic outcomes. However, a gap still frequently exists in terms of demonstrating positive implementation impacts on the ground and creating benefits for local communities. Risk-based approaches are appropriate to address expectations by regulators and investors as well as downstream companies in general, but may be insufficient to meet local expectations.
Therefore, mining companies should strive to go beyond risk management Stark and Levin ; Frederiksen ; Ivic et al. Also, to contribute to positive long-term development a life-cycle perspective of the mine, including post-closure development, appears necessary Stark and Levin ; Mori Junior et al. Local stakeholder consultation and participation is key for generating local benefits. Whereas industry-led sustainability initiatives have developed guidance standards for corporate approaches to the Social License to Operate as well as corporate social responsibility measures, there is still a need to improve stakeholder engagement towards building trust and meaningful dialogue Frederiksen ; Ruokonen ; Lesser Over the past decade international regulations and voluntary industry or multi-stakeholder initiatives addressing social and environmental risks at the cross-sectoral level as well as in mining and mineral supply chains have gained increasing importance.
The stakeholder base expected to respond to the sustainability and due diligence concerns has broadened from directly involved parties to a range of indirect stakeholders situated along the downstream mineral value chain. Human rights due diligence requirements have become an international minimum standard for many mineral supply chains, applicable to both large-scale industrial mining as well as ASM operations.
Building on the initial due diligence concept, regulatory approaches and voluntary initiatives are currently expanding towards a broader range of mineral commodities as well as to additional topics, such as climate change impact or product recycling rates. This makes it highly pertinent to reflect on the implementation experience so far and identify lessons learnt to consider for the future design and implementation of such regulations, initiatives and associated policy measures.
While many companies have successfully adopted due diligence procedures and supply chains have become more transparent, conflict financing in Central Africa still persists in certain parts of the local ASM sector for a number of reasons. Anticipating similar challenges, care must therefore be taken to design future regulations with realistic objectives in mind, providing sufficient time frames for compliance including at the upstream end, and reinforcing implementation incentives for accompanying measures at the local level as well as global outreach efforts to ensure a level playing field.
Standard development, risk management, and reporting have been at the centre of many initiatives in the mining sector and along mineral supply chains. Although the industry has achieved notable implementation progress, current social and environmental risk assessments might not be comprehensive enough while public corporate reporting lacks site-specific data on sustainability performance and impacts. At the same time, a strong prioritisation of risk management might insufficiently consider local concerns and longer-term development priorities, and thus undermine the social acceptance of mining activities.
Considering these challenges, more emphasis should be put on closing the gap between downstream supply chain expectations, regulatory requirements, upstream governance capacities, and the social acceptance of mining activities. Among others, this will necessitate meaningful dialogue between all stakeholders and adapted reporting concepts that consider local impact generation as well.
Moreover, the larger sustainable development framework often relies on structural development issues that typically fall under the primary responsibility of national governments. As such, international regulations and voluntary initiatives contribute to promoting responsibility in the mining sector and along mineral supply chains, but may not solely by themselves guarantee sustainability in mining. For the purpose of this article, we refer to this document as the OECD due diligence guidance in the following.
Excluding coal, uranium, and diamonds, calculated based on metal production value according to Drobe Amnesty International Time to recharge corporate action and inaction to tackle abuses in the cobalt supply chain. Accessed 08 August Accessed 21 July Accessed 24 July Accessed 16 June Bright C Mapping human rights due diligence regulations and evaluating their contribution in upholding labour standards in global supply chains.
International Labour Office, Geneva, pp 75— Google Scholar. Campbell B Corporate social responsibility and development in Africa: redefining the roles and responsibilities of public and private actors in the mining sector. Resourc Policy — Article Google Scholar. Accessed 14 June Accessed 17 October European Institute on Economics and the Environment. Accessed 17 June J Clean Prod — Conflict minerals and mining reform in the DR Congo.
Dev Policy Rev — Accessed 26 June European Commission b Critical raw materials resilience: charting a path towards greater security and sustainability. European Commission. European Commission EU principles for sustainable raw materials.
Publications office of the European Union. Accessed 16 September European Parliament Briefing — Towards a mandatory EU system of due diligence for supply chains. European Union Indicative, non-exhaustive list of conflict-affected and high-risk areas. European Union. Accessed 15 September EY Global mining and metals top 10 business risks and opportunities — Academic Press, pp — Chapter Google Scholar. Franks DM Mountain movers — mining, sustainability and agents of change. Rothledge, London.
Book Google Scholar. PNAS 21 — Frederiksen T Corporate social responsibility, risk and development in the mining industry. Resour Policy — Canadian Mining Journal. March 4, Accessed 06 July Glencore Pathway to net zero — climate report. Accessed 12 August Resources Policy Hilson G, Murck B Sustainable development in the mining industry: clarifying the corporate perspective. Environ Res Lett 7 4 Human Rights Watch Human rights watch.
Accessed 14 September Another location technique is slight movement. Although the user will typically try to hold the object still, there will usually be some jitter of the Bedoop object within the image frame e. Background visual clutter, in contrast, will typically be stationary.
Such movement may thus be sensed and used to identify the Bedoop object from within the image data. Still another object-location clue is object shape. Many Bedoop objects are rectangular in shape or trapezoidal as viewed by the camera. Straight edge boundaries can thus be used to define an area of likely Bedoop data. Color is a further object identification clue that may be useful in some contexts. Yet another object location clue is spatial frequency.
In imaging systems with well defined focal zones, undesired visual clutter may be at focal distances that results in blurring. The Bedoop object, in contrast, will be in focus and may be characterized by fine detail. Analyzing the image data for the high frequencies associated with fine detail can be used to distinguish the intended object from others.
Characteristic markings on the object as discussed below in connection with determining object orientation can also be sensed and used in locating the object. Once the Bedoop object has been located within the image data, masking can be applied if desired to eliminate image data not corresponding to the intended object. The next step in the decoding process, determining orientation of the Bedoop data, can likewise be discerned by reference to visual clues.
For example, some objects include subliminal graticule data, or other calibration data, steganographically encoded with the Bedoop data to aid in determining orientation. Others can employ overt markings, either placed for that sole purpose e. Edge-detection algorithms can also be employed to deduce the orientation of the object by reference to its edges. Some embodiments filter the image data at some point in the process to aid in ultimate Bedoop data extraction.
One use of such filtering is to mitigate image data artifacts due to the particular optical sensor. For example, CCD arrays have regularly-spaced sensors that sample the optical image at uniformly spaced discrete points. This discrete sampling effects a transformation of the image data, leading to certain image artifacts.
An appropriately configured filter can reduce some of these artifacts. In some arrangements, the step of determining the orientation can be omitted. Business card readers, for example, produce data that is reliably free of artifacts and is of known scale.
Or the encoding of the Bedoop data can be effected in such a way that renders it relatively immune to certain distortion mechanisms. For example, while the presently-preferred encoding arrangement operates on a 2D grid basis, with rows and columns of data points, the encoding can alternatively be done on another basis e.
In still other embodiments, the orientation-determining step can be omitted because the decoding can readily proceed without this information. For example decoding which relies on the Fourier-Mellin transform produces data in which scale and rotation can be ignored. Once the orientation of the object is discerned, the image data may be virtually re-registered, effectively mapping it to another perspective e.
This mapping can employ known image processing techniques to compensate, e. The resulting frame of data may then be more readily processed to extract the steganographically-encoded Bedoop data. In an exemplary embodiment, after the image data is remapped into rectilinear planar form, subliminal graticule data is sensed that identifies the locations within the image data where the binary data is encoded.
Desirably, the binary data is redundantly encoded, e. Each patch comprises one or more pixels. The patches are typically square, and thus contain 1, 4, 9, or 16, etc. The nominal luminance of each patch before encoding e. Preferably, the degree of change is adapted to the character of the underlying image, with relatively greater changes being made in regions where the human eye is less likely to notice them.
Each block thus encoded can convey plural bits of data e. The encoding of such blocks in tiled fashion across the object permits the data to be conveyed in robust fashion. Much of the time, of course, the Bedoop sensor is staring out and grabbing image frames that have no Bedoop data.
Desirably, the detection process includes one or more checks to assure that Bedoop data is not wrongly discerned from non-Bedoop image data. Various techniques can be employed to validate the decoded data, e. Likewise, the system can confirm that the same Bedoop data is present in different tiled excerpts within the image data, etc. Details of particular encoding and decoding techniques can be found in U. As noted, the data can be encoded on a tiled basis, with each tile being 64 to elements on a side.
Each element can be 0. The Bedoop payload data can be redundantly represented by various error-tolerant coding techniques e. The increases and decreases can be scaled in accordance with visual masking attributes of the image being encoded. The calibration signal can be summed with the tiled data signal and can comprise a signal tailored in the frequency domain to have spectral impulses per quadrant, in a known pattern.
During detection, the rotation or scaling of these impulses from their known frequency domain coordinates permits the rotation or scaling of the image to be discerned and compensated for. Data Structures, Formats, Protocols, and Infrastructures.
In an exemplary system, the Bedoop data payload is 64 bits. Other payload lengths, fields, and divisions, are of course possible, as is the provision of error-checking or error-correcting bits. Briefly, the CLASS ID is the most rudimentary division of Bedoop data, and may be analogized, in the familiar internet taxonomy, to the limited number of top level domains e.
It is basically an indicator of object type. The UID is the finest level of granularity, and can roughly be analogized to internet pages on a particular server e. The UID determines precisely what response should be provided. Most systems will be able to respond to several classes of Bedoop objects. In the case of a computer equipped with a Bedoop input device e. XLS and. DOC file extensions are commonly associated by existing operating system registries to invoke Microsoft Excel and Word software applications, respectively.
Sometimes the computer system may encounter a Bedoop object for which it does not have a registered application program. In such case, a default Bedoop application can be invoked. This default application can, e. The remote server can undertake the response itself, it can instruct the originating computer how to respond appropriately, or it can undertake some combination of these two responses.
Such arrangements are further considered below. At a local Bedoop system which may be implemented, for example, using a conventional personal computer , a camera, scanner, or other optical sensor provides image data to a decoder which may be implemented as a software component of the operating system The decoder analyzes the image data to discern the plural-bit Bedoop data. The registry responds by identifying and launching a local Bedoop application designed to service the discerned Bedoop data.
Sometimes the system may encounter a Bedoop object for which several different responses may be appropriate. In the case of a printed office document, for example, one response may be as described above—to present the electronic version of the file on a computer, ready for editing.
But other responses may also be desired, such as writing an email message to the author of the printed document, with the author's email address already specified in the message address field, etc. Such different responses may be handled by different Bedoop applications, or may be options that are both provided by a single Bedoop application. The operating system can then present a dialog box to the user inviting the user to specify which form of response is desired.
Optionally, a default choice can be made if the user doesn't specify within a brief period e. The operating system can then launch the Bedoop application corresponding to the chosen response. A similar arrangement can be employed if a single Bedoop application can provide both responses. In such case the operating system launches the single Bedoop application since there is no ambiguity to be resolved , and the application presents the choice to the user. Again, the user can select, or a default choice can be automatically made.
In the just-described situations, the user can effect the choice by using the keyboard or mouse—as with traditional dialog boxes. But Bedoop provides another, usually easier, form of interaction. The user can make the selection through the optical sensor input. For example, moving the object to the right can cause a UI button on the right side of the dialog box to be selected; moving the object to the left can cause a UI button on the left side of the dialog box to be selected; moving the object towards the camera can cause the selected button to be activated.
Many other such techniques are possible, as discussed below. This client application, in turn, directs a web browser 40 on the local Bedoop system to communicate with a remote master registration server computer The local computer forwards the Bedoop data to this master server. A single server may handle Bedoop data of several classes, but more typically there is a dedicated server for each CLASS. Each DNS server in the first tier 50 may, in turn, route Bedoop data to one of 8 servers in a second tier of the tree, in accordance with the fourth-through sixth bits of the DNS data.
The tree continues in this fashion until a terminal level of DNS leaf node servers Ultimately, Bedoop data routed into this network reaches a DNS leaf node server That leaf node server may handle the Bedoop data, or may redirect the local Bedoop system to a further server 58 that does so. That ultimate server—whether a DNS leaf node server or a further server—can query the local Bedoop system for further information, if necessary, and can either instruct the local Bedoop system how to respond, or can undertake some or all of the response itself and simply relay appropriate data back to the local Bedoop system.
In arrangements in which the local Bedoop system is redirected, by the DNS leaf node server, to a further server that actually handles the response, access to the further server may be through a port 59 e. Caching can be provided throughout the trees of servers to speed responses. Bedoop data, propagating through the server network, can prompt a response from an intermediate server if there is a cache hit.
If desired, Bedoop traffic through the above-detailed server trees can be monitored to collect demographic and statistical information as to what systems are sending what Bedoop data, etc. One use of such information is to dynamically reconfigure the DNS network to better balance server loads, to virtually relocate DNS resources nearer regions of heavy usage, etc.
Another use of such information is for marketing purposes, e. Within certain user networks that are linked to the internet, e. That server will recognize certain types of Bedoop data, and know of resources within the corporate network suitable for handling same. Referral to such resources within the corporate network will be made, where possible.
These resources e. If the corporate Bedoop name server does not know of a resource within the corporate network that can respond to the Bedoop data, the corporate name server then routes the data to the public Bedoop network described above. Such referral can be to the master registration server or, to the extent the corporate name server knows the addresses of appropriate servers within the DNS server tree, or of the further servers to which DNS servers may point for certain Bedoop data, it can redirect the local Bedoop system accordingly.
In typical rich Bedoop implementations, local systems may have libraries of Bedoop services, applications, or protocols. Some may be unique to that computer. Others may be commonly available on all computers. Others may be shareware, or the result of open-source programming efforts. In some applications it is advantageous for the protocol to more nearly match those commonly used for internet communications. The DNS field in Bedoop systems can follow the internet standard.
To further illustrate some of the basic principles associated with this technology, consider greeting cards and the like that are encoded e. On receiving such a card, a recipient holds it in front of the image capture device on a laptop or other computer. The computer responds by displaying an internet web page that has a stock- or customized-presentation image, video, audio-video, etc. The web site presentation can be personalized by the sender e.
In the latter case, for example, the card can be serialized. After taking the card home, the purchaser can visit the card vendor's web site and enter the card serial number in an appropriate user interface. The purchaser is then presented with a variety of simple editing tools to facilitate customization of the web greeting. When the sender is finished designing the web greeting, the finished web page data is stored by software at the vendor's web site at a site corresponding to the serial number.
That leaf node server indexes a table, database, or other data structure with the UID from the Bedoop data, and obtains from that data structure the address of an ultimate web site—the same address at which the web greeting customized by the sender was stored. That address is provided by the DNS leaf node server back to the local computer, with instructions that the web page at that address be loaded and displayed e. The local computer complies, presenting the customized web greeting to the card recipient.
In the just-described embodiment, in which a pre-encoded card is purchased by a sender and the web-display is then customized, the address of the web site is typically determined by the card vendor. But this need not be the case. To illustrate the foregoing alternatives, consider the on-line acquisition of a greeting card, e.
With suitable user-selection and, optionally, customization , the desired card can be printed using an ink-jet or other printer at the sender's home. In such case, the Bedoop data on the card can be similarly customized. Instead of leading to a site determined by the card vendor, the data can lead to the sender's personal web page, or to another arbitrary web address.
To effect such an arrangement, the sender must arrange for a DNS leaf node server to respond to a particular set of Bedoop data by pointing to the desired web page. While individuals typically will not own DNS servers, internet service providers commonly will. Just as AOL provides simple tools permitting its subscribers to manage their own modest web pages, internet service providers can likewise provide simple tools permitting subscribers to make use of DNS leaf node servers.
Each subscriber may be assigned up to 20 UIDs. The tools would permit the users to define a corresponding web address for each UID. Whenever a Bedoop application led to that DNS leaf node server, and presented one of those UIDs, the server would instruct the originating computer to load and present the web page at the corresponding web address.
Prior to customizing the greeting card, the sender uses the tool provided by the internet service provider to store the address of a desired destination web address in correspondence with one of the sender's available UIDs. When customizing the greeting card, the sender specifies the Bedoop data that is to be encoded, including the just-referenced UID. The greeting card application encodes this data into the artwork and prints the resulting card. When this card is later presented to a Bedoop system by the recipient, the recipient's system loads and displays the web page specified by the sender.
In the just-described arrangement, internet service providers make available to each subscriber a limited number of UIDs on a DNS server maintained by the service. Public service, non-profit, and academic applications should have relatively generous access to Bedoop resources, either without charge or for only a modest charge.
Business enterprises, in contrast, would be expected to pay fees to moderate their potentially insatiable demand for the resources. The user fills out a web-based form with names, addresses, and billing information; the system makes the necessary changes to all of the hidden system infrastructure—updating databases, routing tables, etc. Just as the above-described embodiment employed an ink-jet printer to produce a customized-Bedoop greeting card, the same principles can likewise be applied to access-control objects, such as photo-IDs.
Consider an employment candidate who will be interviewing at a new employer. The candidate's visit is expected, but she is not recognized by the building's security personnel. In this, and many other applications, arrangements like the following can be used:.
The employer e-mails or otherwise sends the candidate an access code. The code can be encrypted for transmission. The code is valid only for a certain time period on a given date e. Upon receipt of the access code, the candidate downloads from the web site of the state Department of Motor Vehicles the latest copy of her driver's license photo. The DMV has already encoded this photo with Bedoop data.
This data leads to a state-run DNS leaf node server When that server is presented with a UID decoded from a photograph, the server accesses a database and returns to the inquiring computer a text string indicating the name of the person depicted by the photograph.
The candidate incorporates this photo into an access badge. Using a software application which may be provided especially for such purposes, e. The access code emailed from the employer is also provided to this application. The name printed on the badge is obtained by the candidate's computer from the DMV's DNS server, in response to Bedoop data extracted from the photograph.
In this application, unlike most, the photograph is not scanned as part of a Bedoop process. Instead, the photograph is already available in digital form, so the Bedoop decoding proceeds directly from the digital representation.
For security purposes, the access code is not embedded using standard Bedoop techniques. Instead, a non-standard format typically steganographic is employed. The embedding of this access code can span the entire face of the card, or can be limited to certain regions e. On the appointed day the candidate presents herself at the employer's building. At the exterior door lock, the candidate presents the badge to an optical sensor device, which reads the embedded building access code, checks it for authenticity and, if the candidate arrived within the permitted hours, unlocks the door.
Inside the building the candidate may encounter a security guard. Seeing an unfamiliar person, the guard may visually compare the photo on the badge with the candidate's face. Additionally, the guard can present the badge to a portable Bedoop device, or to one of many Bedoop systems scattered through the building e. The Bedoop system extracts the Bedoop data from the card i. If the Bedoop system is a telephone, the name may be displayed on a small LCD display commonly provided on telephones.
The guard checks the name returned by the Bedoop system with the name printed on the badge. On seeing that the printed and Bedoop-decoded names match and optionally checking the door log to see that a person of that name was authorized to enter and did so , the security guard can let the candidate pass. It will be recognized that the just-described arrangement offers very high security, yet this security is achieved without the candidate ever previously visiting the employer, without the employer knowing what the candidate looks like, and by use of an access badge produced by the candidate herself.
Variants of such home-printed badge embodiments find numerous applications. Consider purchasing movie- or event-tickets over the web. The user can print an access ticket that has an entry code embedded therein. On arriving at the theater or event, the user presents the ticket to an optical scanning device, which decodes the entry code, checks the validity of same, authorizes the entry, and marks that entry code as having been used preventing multiple uses of tickets printed with the same code.
A great variety of access control systems can be implemented using the present technology. The foregoing is just one example. The ID card can be a badge or the like having a steganographically-encoded photograph of the bearer. The card further includes a proximity ID device, such as an unpowered electronic circuit that is excited and detected by a radiant field from an associated proximity detector, providing a unique signature signal identifying a particular individual.
The building can be provided with an image sensor such as a video camera or the like , an associated Bedoop detection system, and the proximity detector. When a user wearing the badge approaches, the proximity detector signals the camera to capture image data.
The Bedoop detection system identifies the badge photograph e. The access control system then checks whether the badge ID discerned from the proximity sensor properly corresponds to the Bedoop data extracted from the photograph on the badge.
If so, access is granted; if not, the data is logged and an alarm is sounded. By such arrangement, premises security is increased. No longer can proximity-based access badges be altered to substitute the picture of a different individual. If the photo is swapped, the proximity system ID and the embedded photo data will not match, flagging an unauthorized attempted access.
The same principles are applicable in many other contexts—not limited to RF-based proximity detection systems. For example, the data decoded from the photograph can be compared against other forms of machine-sensed personal identification associated with the badge. These include, but are not limited to, bar code IDs, mag-stripe ID cards, smart cards, etc. Or the comparison can be with an identification metric not associated with the badge e. In the foregoing discussions, reference has been made to use of ink-jet printing as a means for providing steganographically encoded indicia on substrates.
The following discussion expands on some of the operative principles. The basic physics and very low level analog electronic operation of ink-jet printers sometimes termed bubble-jet printers are ideally suited to support very-light-tint background digital watermarking on any form of substrate. Indeed, there is a degree of flexibility and control in the ink-jet printing realm that is not as generally available in more traditional printing technologies, such as commercial offset printing and other plate-based technologies.
This is not to say that ink-jet has better quality than plate-based technologies; it has more to do with the statistics of ink droplets than anything else. In some embodiments, the ink-jet driver software is modified to provide lower-level control of individual droplet emission than is provided in existing printer drivers, which are naturally optimized for text and graphics.
The latter may be effected as a slight modulation signal on the former. This arrangement provides for essentially transparent integration into existing printer environments—no one need worry about the watermarking capability except the software applications that specifically make use of same. Various items of printed media can originate off the web, yet be printed at home.
Examples include movie tickets, coupons, car brochures, etc. Bedoop data can be added, or modified, by the software application or by the printer driver at the time of printing. Alternatively, the Bedoop data can be customized to correspond to the user before being downloaded to the user's system for printing.
One advantage to Bedoop-encoding printed images locally, as opposed to Bedoop-encoding the image files prior to downloading for local printing, is that the encoding can be tailored in accordance with the particular properties of the local printer e. In one particular example, the UID field in the Bedoop data can be written with a value that serves as an index to a database of user profiles, permitting later systems to which the printed item is presented to personalize their response in accordance with the profile data.
In another example, the UID field serves an authentication purpose, e. The encoding can be in addition to other aesthetic imagery e. Labels the size of postage stamps may be used. The cash register system also knows the current price of the requested drink, and rings up the charge accordingly. Labels of the type described can be available to the cashier on pre-printed rolls, just as with other adhesive stickers, or can be printed on-demand.
Small label printers may be best suited in the latter case, given space constraints in retail outlets. Customers ordering drinks for personal mugs may be invited to take a label corresponding to their just-ordered drink and apply it to their mug for future use. In variants on this basic theme, the mug label can be further encoded or a supplemental label can be provided and encoded with electronic payment information, such as the customer's credit card number, or the number of a debit account maintained by the coffee merchant for that customer.
When the mug is scanned for the drink order, the system likewise detects the payment information and charges the corresponding fee to the appropriate account. In another variant on this theme, the system maintains an electronic log of coffee purchases made by the customer and, in accordance with then-prevailing marketing considerations, rewards the customer with a free drink after 8 or 12, etc.
In still another variant on this theme, regular customers who use Bedoop-labeled mugs can participate in periodic promotions in which, for example, every N th such customer is rewarded with a cash or merchandise prize. Bells go off when the N th mug is scanned. N can be a fixed number, such as , or can be a random number—typically within a known range or with a known mean.
The coffee cup is an example of a non-planar object. Another is soft drink cans. Special issues can arise when encoding and decoding markings on such objects. For example, when sensing such an object with a camera or the like, part of the image will be out of focus due to differing distances from the camera to different parts of the can surface. While parts of an image sensed from a non-planar object, such as a can, may be out of focus, they still convey useful image data. The out of focus areas are just blurred—as if filtered by a low pass filter.
But to make use of this information, a further complication must first be addressed: warping. When viewed from a camera, the planar artwork with which the can is wrapped becomes warped. Portions of the can nearest the camera appear at a nominal full scale, while areas successively further around the can curvature as viewed from the camera appear progressively more and more spatially compressed.
Regardless of the watermarking technology being employed, the physical warp of the can's surface is likewise manifested as a warping of the encoded watermark data. One way of handling this issue is to pre-warp the watermark pattern to account for this optical distortion. In watermarking techniques that operate directly on luminance values, the grid by which the watermark is applied can be pre-distorted to counteract the subsequent optical distortion of the artwork as it is perceived on the cylindrical can.
Consider a Pepsi or Coke can. On either side of this center line the grid is successively stretched. This stretching is computed so that, when viewed by a camera, the watermark grid has the appearance of being uniformly rectilinear, instead of being successively compressed towards the apparent edge of the can, as would otherwise be the case.
An illustration of such an approach is shown in the Figures. The artwork e. More typically the grid is square rather than rectangular. Also, the grid is typically smaller e. Still further, the illustrated pre-warping is based on an infinite projection i. More typically, the warp would be computed based on a finite projection—using a typical lens-to-object distance e.
The illustrated grid is pre-warped only in the horizontal direction, and only in accordance with a curvature-induced geometrical distortion. Another apparent geometrical distortion is also present—one due to different parts of the can being further from the camera.
The further away, the smaller the appearance. Accordingly, grid elements expected to be positioned further from the camera should be made commensurately larger in order to pre-compensate for this distance-induced geometrical distortion. Such distance-induced geometrical distortion is manifested equally in the horizontal and vertical directions.
Thus, a more accurate pre-warp would also progressively swell the grid cells both in vertical and horizontal dimensions at progressive displacements from the center line, so as to counter-act the further-looks-smaller effect. The degree of this latter pre-warping will be heavily dependent on the distance from the camera lens to the front of the can.
If the distance is on the order of two inches, the further-looks-smaller effect will be much more pronounced than if the distance is a foot or more. The illustrated pre-warping is exemplary of that which may be applied when the watermark is applied in the pixel domain using a grid pattern. It is geometrical pre-warping—i. Other watermarking approaches would naturally require pre-warping of other sorts, corresponding to the anticipated warping of the watermark data representation.
For example, watermarking techniques that rely on changing image coefficients in transformed domains would require different adjustments. Conceptually these adjustments are the same i. Although the foregoing description focused on pre-warping the image, the problem can be handled otherwise. If a rectilinear watermark—not pre-warped—is applied to a cylindrical can, the watermark detector can apply an unwarping operation to counteract the applicable distortion.
That is, the detector can virtually remap the raw pixel data to effectively stretch the pixels away from the center line to restore them to their proper rectilinear relationship. In one embodiment, the sensed image data is first trial-decoded without unwarping—assuming the imaged subject is planar. If no watermark is detected, the same data or a subsequent frame of image data is trial-unwarped to see if perhaps the data so yields a readable watermark.
Several successive unwarpings of different characters may be tried. In some embodiments, a detector may continuously cycle through several different unwarping functions including no unwarping to try and happen on an unwarping function that permits a watermark be discerned from the image data. If the application permits, the user may specify the shape of the object so that a single, or limited range, of unwarping functions is applied. Or the user can simply provide a gross cue to the detector e.
In the former case, the medium is known to be flexible and may assume random simple curvatures other than planar. In such case the detector may spend most of its time trying to decode the watermark assuming the imaged page is planar, and occasionally try applying one of four or eight different unwarping functions as would be appropriate if the magazine page were slightly drooping in different directions.
In the latter case, grocery products are generally fairly unflexible and thus have relatively predictable shapes—most commonly planar or cylindrical. In such case the detector may spend half its time trying to decode assuming the object is planar, and spend the other half of its time cycling among a variety of cylindrical unwarping functions. While the foregoing discussion particularly addressed image watermarking, counterparts of these principles are likewise applicable to audio watermarking.
In accordance with another embodiment, a building elevator is provided with one or more optical capture devices. Each device examines monitors the contents of the elevator chamber, looking for Bedoop encoded objects, such as ID badges. On sensing a Bedoop-encoded object, the elevator can determine—among other data—the floor on which the wearer's office is located.
The system can then automatically direct the elevator to that floor, without the need for the person to operate any buttons. The elevator's button panel can be provided with a new, override button that can be operated to un-select the most recently selected floor s , e. To aid in identification, the Bedoop objects e. Or the object can be provided with a retro-reflective coating, and the elevator can be equipped with one or more illumination sources of known spectral or temporal quality e.
Other such tell-tale clues can likewise be used to aid in object location. In all such cases, the optical capture device can sense the tell-tale clue s using a wide field of view sensor. As with the earlier-described office document case, the encoded data yields an address to a computer location e.
In one exemplary embodiment, the blank magazine page stock is Bedoop-encoded prior to printing. The watermarking can be performed by high speed ink-jet devices, which splatter a fine pattern of essentially imperceptible ink droplets across each page. Each page can be differently watermarked so that, on decoding, page 21 of a magazine can be distinguished from page 22 of the same magazine and page of the Jun.
If desired, each page can be further segregated into regions—either in accordance with the actual boundaries of articles that will later be printed on the pages, or in a grid pattern, e. Each region conveys a distinct Bedoop code, permitting different portions of the page to lead to different web data.
After watermarking and printing, the pages thus produced are bound in the usual fashion with others to form the finished magazine. Not all pages in the magazine need to be watermarked. Of course, the watermarking can be effected by processes other than ink-jet printing.
For example, texturing by pressure rollers is another option well suited for the large volumes of paper to be processed. Or the artwork presented in the advertisement can be digitally watermarked using commercial watermarking software as is available, e. On presenting a magazine to the optical scanner device of a Bedoop-compliant computer, the computer senses the Bedoop data, decodes same, and launches a web browser to an internet address corresponding to the Bedoop data.
If the magazine page is an advertisement, the internet address can provide information complementary to the advertisement. For example, if the magazine page is an advertisement for a grocery item, the Bedoop data can identify a web page on which recipes that make use of the advertised item are presented. If the magazine page includes a photo of a tropical beach, the Bedoop data can lead to a travel web page e.
The fare information can be customized to the reader's home airport by reference to user profile data stored on the user's computer and relayed to the web site to permit customization of the displayed page. The data to which the Bedoop data leads needn't be static; it can be updated on a weekly, daily, or other basis. Thus, if a months-old magazine page is presented to a Bedoop device, the resultant data can be up-to-the-minute.
In the case of advertising, the inclusion of Bedoop data increases the value of the ad to the advertiser, and so merits a higher charge to the advertiser from the magazine publisher. This higher charge may be shared with the enterprise s that provides the Bedoop technology and infrastructure through which the higher value is achieved. Conventional business cards can be steganographically encoded with Bedoop data, e.
As with many of the earlier-described embodiments, the steganographic encoding is tailored to facilitate decoding in the presence of arbitrary rotation or scale distortion of the card introduced during scanning. Some such techniques are shown, e. Various other techniques are known to artisans. When a recipient of a business card holds it in front of a Bedoop sensor, the operating system on the local system launches a local Bedoop application. That local Bedoop application, in turn, establishes an external internet connection to a remote business card server.
The address of that server may already be known to the local Bedoop application e. A database on the business card name server maintains a large collection of business card data, one database record per UID. When that server receives Bedoop data from a local Bedoop system, it parses out the UID and accesses the corresponding database record.
This record typically includes more information than is commonly printed on conventional business cards. Sample fields from the record may include, for example, name, title, office phone, office fax, home phone, home fax, cellular phone, email address, company name, corporate web page address, personal web page address, secretary's name, spouse's name, and birthday. This record is transmitted back to the originating Bedoop system. The local Bedoop system now has the data, but needs further instruction from the user as to how it should be processed.
Should a telephone number be dialed? Should the information be entered into a personal contact manager database e. In an exemplary embodiment, the local system presents the available choices to the user, e. The user responds by manipulating the business card in a manner prompted by the system e. The local Bedoop system responds accordingly.
Some card givers may choose to make additional information available to card recipients—information beyond that known in prior art contact-management software applications. For example, one of the choices presented by a local Bedoop system in response to presentation of a business card may be to review the card-giver's personal calendar. The card-giver can maintain his or her personal calendar on a web-accessible computer.
By such arrangement, the card-recipient can learn when the card-giver may be found in the office, when appointments might be scheduled, etc. Typically, access to this web-calendar is not available to casual web browsers, but is accessible only in response to Bedoop data which may thus be regarded as a form of authentication or password data. Some users may carry several differently-encoded cards, each with a different level of access authorization e.
Thus, some cards may access a biographical page without any calendar information, other cards may access the same or different page with access enabled to today's calendar, or this week's calendar, only, and still other cards e. The user can distribute these different cards to different persons in accordance with the amount of personal information desired to be shared with each.
This field can be continually-updated throughout the day with the then-most-suitable communications channel to the card-giver. When the card-giver leaves home to go to the office, or leaves the office for a trip in the car, or works a week at a corporate office in another town, etc.
Consider a Bedoop-enabled public telephone. To dial the phone, a business card is held in front of the Bedoop sensor or slid through an optical scanner track. To update the any of the fields stored in the database record, the card giver can use a special card that conveys write-authorization privileges. This special card can be a specially encoded version of the business card, or can be another object unique to the card-giver e.
The reference to business cards and personal calendars is illustrative only. The just-discussed principles can be similarly applied. Teenagers can carry small cards to exchange with new acquaintances to grant access to private dossiers of personal information, favorite music, artwork, video clips, etc. The cards can be decorated with art or other indicia that can serve purposes wholly unrelated to the Bedoop data steganographically encoded therein.
A Bedoop system can determine the scale state, rotation state, X-Y offset, and differential scale state, of an object by reference to embedded calibration data, or other techniques. If the scan device operates at a suitably high frame rate e. In an earlier-discussed example, moving an object to the left or right in front of the Bedoop scanner caused a left- or right-positioned button in a dialog box to be selected.
This is a change in the X-Y offset of the scanned object. In that earlier example, moving the object inwardly towards the camera caused the selected button to be activated. This is a change in the scale state of the scanned object. In similar fashion, twisting the object to the left or right can prompt one of two further responses in a suitably programmed Bedoop application.
This is a change in the rotation state. Likewise, tilting the object so that one part is moved towards or away from the camera can prompt one of two further responses in the application. This is a change in the differential scale state. In the business card case just-discussed, for example, the card can be held in front of the Bedoop scanner of a computer. If the card is twisted to the left, the computer opens a web browser to a web page address corresponding to Bedoop data on the card.
If the card is twisted to the right, the computer opens an e-mail template, pre-addressed to an e-mail address indicated by the card. In other examples, twisting an object to move the right edge towards the scanner can be used to effect a right mouse click input, and twisting the object to move the right edge away from the scanner can be used to effect a left mouse click input.
Simultaneous changes in two of these four positioning variables can be used to provide one of four different inputs to the computer e. Simultaneous changes to three or all four of these variables can similarly be used to provide one of eight or sixteen different inputs to the computer. Simultaneous manipulations of the object in two or more of these modes is generally unwieldy, and loses the simple, intuitive, feel that characterizes manipulation of the object in one mode.
However, a similar effect can be achieved by sequential, rather than simultaneous, manipulation of the card in different modes e. Moreover, sequential manipulations permit the same mode to be used twice in succession e. By such sequential manipulations of the object, arbitrarily complex input can be conveyed to the Bedoop system.
It will be recognized that a digitally-encoded object is not necessary to the gestural-input applications described above. Any object talisman that can be distinguished in the image data can be manipulated by a user in the manners described above, and an appropriate system can recognize the movement of the object and respond accordingly. The provision of digital data on the object provides a further dimension of functionality e. Moreover, even within the realm of digitally-encoded gestural talismans, steganographic encoding is not essential.
Any other known form of optically-recognizable digital encoding e. In an illustrative embodiment, a business card or photograph is used as the talisman, but the range of possible talismans is essentially unlimited. Dynamic gestures are not the only communications that can be effected by such talismans.
Static positioning e. Consider a magazine advertisement. When presented to the sensor with the top of the page up, a first response can be invoked. If the page is presented at a rotation of 90 degrees, a second response can be invoked. Similarly with degrees rotation i.
The Bedoop detector can detect these different rotational states by reference to attributes of the watermark signal discerned from the magazine page e. There are various ways in which the Bedoop system's decoding of gestural input can be effected. In some Bedoop systems, this functionality is provided as part of the Bedoop applications. Generally, however, the applications must be provided with the raw frame data in order to discern the gestural movements.
Since this functionality is typically utilized by many Bedoop applications, it is generally preferable to provide a single set of gestural interpretation software functions commonly at the operating system level to analyze the frame data, and make available gestural output data in standardized form to all Bedoop applications. In one such system, a gestural decoding module tracks the encoded object within the series of image data frames, and outputs various parameters characterizing the object's position and manipulation over time.
Two of these parameters indicate the X-Y position of the object within current frame of image data. The module can identify a reference point or several on the object, and output two corresponding position data X and Y. The first represents the horizontal offset of the reference point from the center of the image frame, represented as a percentage of frame width. A two's complement representation, or other representation capable of expressing both positive and negative values, can be used so that this parameter has a positive value if the reference point is right of center-frame, and has a negative value if the reference point is left of center frame.
The second parameter, Y, similarly characterizes the position of the reference point above or below center-frame with above-being represented by a positive value. Each of these two parameters can be expressed as a seven-bit byte. A new pair of X, Y parameters is output from the gestural decoding module each time a new frame of image data is processed. In many applications, the absolute X-Y position of the object is not important. Rather, it is the movement of the object in X and Y from frame-to-frame that controls some aspect of the system's response.
The Bedoop application can monitor the change in the two above-described parameters, frame to frame, to discern such movement. Again, this parameter is represented in two's complement form, with positive values representing movement in the rightward direction, and negative values representing movement in the leftward direction. The scale, differential scale, and rotation states of the object can be similarly analyzed and represented by parameters output from the gestural decoding module.
Scale state can be discerned by reference to two or more reference points on the object e. The distance between the two points or the area circumscribed by three or more points is discerned, and expressed as a percentage of the diagonal size of the image frame or its area.
A single output parameter, A, which may be a seven-bit binary representation, is output. This parameter can be expressed in two's complement form, with positive values indicating movement of the object towards the sensor since the last frame, and negative values indicating movement away. A differential scale parameter, B, can be discerned by reference to four reference points on the object e.
The two points on the side edges of the card define a horizontal line; the two points on the top and bottom edges of the card define a vertical line. The ratio of the two line lengths is a measure of differential scale. This ratio can be expressed as the shorter line's length as a percentage of the longer line's length i.
Again, a two's complement seven-bit representation can be used, with positive values indicating that the vertical line is shorter, and negative values indicating that the horizontal line is shorter. A rotation state parameter C can be discerned by the angular orientation of a line defined by two reference points on the object e. This parameter can be encoded as a seven-bit binary value representing the percentage of rotational offset in a clockwise direction from a reference orientation e.
The two reference points must be distinguishable from each other regardless of angular position of the object, if data in the full range of degrees is to be represented. If these two points are not distinguishable, it may only be possible to represent data in the range of degrees. This parameter can be in seven bit, two's complement form, with positive values indicating change in a clockwise rotation. The foregoing analysis techniques, and representation metrics, are of course illustrative only.
The artisan will recognize many other arrangements that can meet the needs of the particular Bedoop applications being served. In the illustrative system, the Bedoop application programs communicate with the gestural decoding module through a standardized set of interface protocols, such as APIs.
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