While the technologies enabling machine-readable data are momentarily stable, ideas for capitalizing on existing technologies are exploding.
Written by John Ghrist
"Machine-readable" technology, by definition, has been around since Thomas Edison gave us the phonograph record. In recent years, we've come to think of this field as being dominated by optical-character recognition (OCR) for scanning standard documents, magnetic-ink character recognition (MICR) for checks and financial papers, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) for tracking the locations of goods and objects. However, the whole field encompasses the concept of automatic identification (AID), the process of helping machines identify objects, capturing data about those objects, and making that information available as data without requiring manual data-entry procedures. This definition can include such objects as smart cards and such technologies as biometrics. It also includes ways of letting common terms be "synchronized" in their meaning throughout related data sets.