The “Tag” initiative has been around for a little while, in beta guise initially, then general release. The idea is that anyone can generate a 2D “barcode” that can could be a link to a website for more information, could be contact information, some plain text or even a “dialer” that would redirect a mobile device to call your number. If you’re printing posters or any other ad material, it’s easy to include a tag, and it can be customised so it’s not such an eye-sore as other, similar tagging approaches.
The ideal consumption device for tags is a mobile phone with a camera, and the team behind this technology have been profligate with their support for phone platforms – send anyone to http://gettag.mobi and they can get software for Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Java, Symbian, Windows Mobile & Windows Phone 7 (also available from the Zune Marketplace on your PC if you’re using WP7).
To use a tag, just fire up the app, point your phone at the physical – or on-screen – instance of the tag, and within the app, “scan” it by taking a picture. It’s as simple as that. The phone will then take you to the website, call the number, display the text or give you the option of saving the contact details.
If you want to generate your own tags, it’s a piece of cake – head over to http://tag.microsoft.com and sign in with your Windows Live ID. You can then create tags and download in a variety of formats, and even track how often the tags you create have been opened.
For stories of how Microsoft Tag is being used – including a photo of a guy with a Tag tattoo on his head – check out the team’s blog. Here’s another example of tag customisation that blends in a bit more than the relatively ugly QR Codes that some ads contain.