What is a Digimarc Barcode ?
Digimarc Corporation, a publicly traded technology company and inventor of several patented innovations, provides enterprise software and services for banking, retail, media, entertainment, publishing and several other industries.
Digimarc is perhaps best-known for its digital watermarking technologies, part of a portfolio of more than 1,100 issued and pending patents globally. Digimarc’s solutions enable the reliable, efficient and automatic recognition of objects and many media formats, a technology category known as automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) or “discovery.” Overall, the company promotes the concept of intuitive computing and aspires to make technology instinctively easy to use, and many of its innovations are modeled on aspects of human cognition and sensory perception.
Based on these principles, Digimarc invented Digimarc Barcode, a machine-readable code that is imperceptible – nearly invisible and inaudible – to people. The company also provides Digimarc Discover software for detecting the information stored in the Digimarc Barcode. The technology can be used with several forms of content, including product packaging and other physical items, printed material including photographic images, and audio.
Digimarc's products and services are in the areas of security, digital rights management (anti-piracy, counterfeit deterrence, copyright protection), advertising and media monitoring and measurement, interactive publishing, content delivery, manufacturing quality control, mobile and embedded systems software development, digital commerce, inventory management, and product packaging. Digimarc partner companies that license its technologies have developed many related applications.
Digimarc was founded by Geoff Rhoads, an astrophysicist with a background in deep space imaging. The initial inspiration for the company came while Rhoads was photographing images of the planet Jupiter. He felt that his digital images were vulnerable on the internet, even with copyright protection. In 1996, after initial venture funding, Digimarc released its first product: a digital watermarking plug-in bundled with Adobe Photoshop, Corel, and Micrografix. After a second round of venture funding and increased investments in research and technology, Digimarc signed a multi-year contract with a consortium of central banks.
Current CEO Bruce Davis named to the post in 1997. He had previously headed video game development companies, such as Activision, and founded TV Guide on Screen, developing it as the leading electronic program guide for television.
Digimarc went public in 1999 with its initial public offering (IPO), offering four million shares of its common stock at $20 per share.
Digimarc has developed a DRM system used on bank notes of several countries. Developed for the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group, the system embeds various hidden patterns into banknote designs which are detected by code included in several popular image editing programs, including Adobe Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro. Digimarc's system blocks users from opening images identified as bank notes.
In 2001, Digimarc acquired the ID Systems assets of bankrupt Polaroid Corporation and established Digimarc ID Systems, LLC. The acquisition gave Digimarc the resources to develop IDMarc, a secure driver license technology eventually adopted by 37 state DMVs.
In August 2008, Digimarc completed the sale of its ID card business to rival L-1 Identity Systems. The new Digimarc corporation consists solely of its digital watermarking business and reincorporated as an Oregon company. Digimarc sold off the majority of their patents to Intellectual Ventures in 2010 for $36 million, plus a portion of any future patents Digimarc is granted. The licensing deal helped increase revenue and profits the next year, when the company earned $639,000 on revenues of $8.6 million in the third quarter.
In 2010, Digimarc sold the licensing rights to a portion of its patent portfolio to Intellectual Ventures as part of a profit sharing partnership.
In 2012, Digimarc acquired Attributor Corp., a content protection company specializing in anti-piracy services and management of copyrights for publishing, photography and corporate documents.
The company formed a partnership in 2016 with GS1 US, a barcode standards organization, to promote the adoption of Digimarc Barcode by the group’s membership. Under the arrangement, GS1 uses Digimarc Barcode technology under the DWCode designation. Digimarc began collaborating with GS1 Germany, a regional offshoot, in 2016 to bring the DWCode to German retailers and manufacturers
Digimarc was named No. 1 on Forbes 2004 list of “25 Fastest Growing Technology Companies” for the application of its technology to help prevent forgery and counterfeiting in driver licenses.
In 2011, the technology trade group IEEE recognized Digimarc as having the sixth most valuable patent portfolio among software companies in the U.S.
In January 2014, Digimarc set a new Guinness World Record for fastest time to scan and bag 50 items at the National Retail Federation's Annual Convention & EXPO (Retail's Big Show) 2014. With a Guinness World Record adjudicator present, company representatives scanned and bagged 50 items featuring the newly released Digimarc Barcode in 51.91 seconds - bettering the previous record of 75 seconds.
In September 2015, Digimarc was honored with an Emmy Award for Technology & Engineering. The award for Steganographic Technologies for Audio/Video acknowledges Digimarc for engineering creativity in the company’s work in the entertainment industry, which has included involvement in the Nielsen television audience ratings and digital cinema protections for Blu-ray and DVD players
The Digimarc digital watermark is a unique identifier based nearly imperceptible patterns applied to many forms of printed materials and digital media such as video or audio recordings. It can be read using visual imaging systems found in many forms of embedded systems using the company's proprietary software development kit (SDK). Third party companies must integrate the SDK code and libraries before the system becomes capable of recognizing the patterns and converting them to some form of identifier, such as a UPC or GS1 number sequence.
Digimarc Discover Mobile SDK
The Digimarc Discover software development kit (SDK) enables application developers to build mobile apps (iOS/Android) that enable consumers to scan product packages and virtually any media with smartphones and tablets to discover more information. The SDK features proprietary optimizations for scanning the 1D consumer barcodes traditionally used at retail (UPC-A, UPC-E, EAN 8, EAN 13, Code 39, Code 128) and also supports scanning of QR codes. The SDK includes technology for detection of Digimarc Barcodes in audio, inaudible codes that enable a range of audience measurement, content monetization and so-called second screen broadcast applications.
Digimarc’s acquisition of Attributor Corp. allowed it to leverage its Digimarc Barcode technology to help publishers and authors prevent uncontrolled copying and sharing of ebooks and other documents online.
Along with book and document protection, Digimarc protects image ownership by modifying images with the imperceptible Digimarc Barcode, enabling photographers, designers and businesses to determine how and where their images are being used online.
Retail and consumer packaged goods
In January 2015, Digimarc disclosed Wegmans, a premium regional grocer, as their first retail customer. Wegmans has enhanced products from their private label in all 85 of their stores. The Oregon-based New Seasons Market became the company’s first retail customer. It started enhancing the grocer’s private label products, items such as almond butter, hot-and-spicy pickled beans and pasta with imperceptible Digimarc Barcodes.
Media and entertainment
The company partnered with The Nielsen Company in 2007 to modify audio with Digimarc Barcode for copyright security compliance. Two years later, Digimarc and Nielsen created two new companies utilizing the consumer and business data amassed by Nielsen to enhance television viewing, facilitate mobile commerce, and help television networks and consumer brands more deeply engage with audiences; commentators have noted "Most watermarking is preferable from a consumer perspective to DRM controls, but dressing it up as a consumer benefit is a bit much". The online music recognition app, Shazam, partnered with Digimarc in 2014 to recognize Digimarc codes in printed materials. The deal sought to optimize identification, engagement, and monetization of the marketing mix of consumer brands and broadening the portfolio of engagement opportunities. Digimarc Discover Mobile SDK was integrated into Rovio’s “Angry Birds Action!” game in 2016. The game was based on The Angry Birds Movie. The music during the end credits was enhanced with Digimarc Barcode for audio which allowed players to unlock a new area of the game by opening the app during the end credits.
In 2014 the company partnered with HarperCollins Publishers and LibreDigital, a provider of ebook distribution and fulfillment services, to help to protect ebooks from being pirated during distribution. Digimarc digitally enhanced US Bancorp’s 2011 U.S. Bancorp Annual Report and U.S. Bancorp Citizenship Report.