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In this paper, we describe a novel data transfer scheme that uses the camera in a smart phone as an alternative data channel. The data is encoded as a sequence of 2-D barcode images, displayed on a flat panel display, acquired by the camera, and decoded in real time by the software embedded in device. The decoded data is written to a file. Compared with existing data channels, such as CDMA/GPRS, cables, Bluetooth, and Infrared, our method relies on visual communication and does not require special hardware or data plans. Users only need to point the camera at a monitor displaying the VCode to download. Technical challenges to overcome include correction of perspective distortion, compensation for contrast variation, and efficient implementation of small footprint software into a mobile device. We address these challenges and present our solution in detail. We have implemented a prototype which allows users to download various types of files successfully, including pictures, ring tones and Java games onto camera phones running Symbian and Windows Mobile platforms. We discuss the limitations of our solution and outline future work to overcome these limitations.
Date of Publication: April 2008