ETCon 2004: Eat Me and I'll Kill You


Marc Smith delivers Wednesday's keynote

Every product has a story to tell and some of them say "If you eat me, I'll kill you." So says Marc Smith, Microsoft's resident sociologists. Marc is describing a research project called AURA. Combine a PocketPC, a barcode reader, and Wi-Fi or mobile wireless and you've got the ability to find out lots of information about any product with a barcode. The project maps barcodes to names. Once that's done, all kinds of things are possible:

  • Google the result for news, images, and other information.
  • Annotate the product packaging
  • Offer alternatives
  • Show how and where it was manufactured
  • Give alternative views of the nutritional data

Of course, all this can be personalized, so that I can see how this product fits in my diet, or whether it contains anything I'm allergic to, or even how it matches my environmental or political preferences.

There are all sorts of opportunities for "resolution services" that meet particular needs or demands.