Who Needs The Future Anymore?

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We show a new camera based interaction solution where an ordinary camera can detect small optical tags from a relatively large distance. Current optical tags, such as barcodes, must be read within a short range and the codes occupy valuable physical space on products. We present a new low-cost optical design so that the tags can be shrunk to 3mm visible diameter, and unmodified ordinary cameras several meters away can be set up to decode the identity plus the relative distance and angle. The design exploits the bokeh effect of ordinary cameras lenses, which maps rays exiting from an out of focus scene point into a disk like blur on the camera sensor. This bokeh-code or Bokode is a barcode design with a simple lenslet over the pattern. We show that an off-the-shelf camera can capture Bokode features of 2.5 microns from a distance of over 4 meters. We use intelligent binary coding to estimate the relative distance and angle to the camera, and show potential for applications in augmented reality and motion capture. We analyze the constraints and performance of the optical system, and discuss several plausible application scenarios.