CNET Article Comments: Points and Counterpoints in the Discussion of Digital Watermarking
If you’re an avid reader of CNET (or just read my friend Matthew’s post), Elinor Mills wrote up a nice article on Digimarc. As with most articles on the Internet these days, the commenters added their own voices to the chat. It’s always good to get real-world feedback, and people’s candor can be refreshing.
Obviously, I'm part of the Digimarc team, but I really do believe in our technology and firmly trust it will become even more widely used in the future. That disclaimer being said, I’d like to quickly add my response to some of the points raised from this healthy discussion and compare digital watermarking to:
- Google Goggles
Isn’t this just a job for Google Goggles or something like that?
Google Goggles is cool, for sure! However, consider this scenario: You have one photo or ad, but it appears in multiple magazines. The same photo could have a different watermark depending on the publication, and link through to different content tailored to the readers of each magazine. With goggle-esque apps, they only recognize the image itself - no matter where it appears - so "1-to-many" applications aren't possible.
Just use RFID!
That’s for sure an interesting thought, and using RFID chips can certainly communicate similar goals, but I don’t see how that can easily integrate into the print workflow. With RFID, could the graphic designer create chips on-the-fly? Not likely, butif so, then how would they be added to the magazine? It’s possible, for sure, but the logistics would disrupt the publication process dramatically, where with our Online Services Portal, the designer can watermark the image, add to the page layout, then move on. The digital watermark can be created, managed, and embedded all by a non-technical person. I don’t believe we’re at the point where RFID tags can be cranked out on a printer. Oh, and don't forget about the cost of RFID, imagine having to pay for mulitple RFID tags in a publication that has a circulation of hundreds of thousands or millions. That cost could become exponential very fast.
Why not just use QR codes?
QR codes work just fine, and we agree, they are very visible right now. I consider QR codes/barcodes/etc… as great educators of the possibilities of print-to-web. This is a new field, but from our experience thus far it’s just as easy to educate users on the presence of a watermark as it is to teach them what they can do with a QR Code. Don't forget, you can lose precious real estate when incorporating a barcode. This is extremely important for limited ad space or editorials that have little room already to deliver messaging. Yes, barcodes are more familiar to consumers, but they still need to be taught this new application. Digimarc is working with several publishers now that have launched with barcodes or Microsoft Tag. They are now moving to our solution as they dislike the appearance of barcodes and the impact to their designs. We believe the transition should be fairly easy as their readers already see the value of accessing enhanced content and promotions using their smartphones.
Okay, digital watermarks are cool! But then how do my readers know an image is digitally watermarked if they’re so cool and invisible?
There will be a certain amount of consumer education required for all new mobile technologies and applications. This is new stuff and will take some education. Whereas a QR code indicates… itself, you may want to have your own indicator of digitally watermarked content. But instead of having to use a big ol’ checkerboard, you can use whatever you want. You can use your own logo or create an indicator of whatever you want, then make it much smaller than a QR code ever will be, and put it anywhere on the page. With a digital watermark, the entire page is the QR code, so to speak.
Wait a minute, isn’t print a dying media anyway?
Absolutely not! Especially with such exciting print to web technologies. The printed form will evolve and may become something new altogether! I’m not the only person who thinks so, and I won’t attempt to put it in as eloquent terms as Tim Smith has.