Barcodes on tickets could be replaced by 1mm dots thanks to new technology from Japanese tech giant NEC Corporation.

The company has announced the development of ‘micro-sized Identifier Dot on Things’ (mIDoT) technology that enables single dots written with off-the-shelf glitter ink pens to become distinctive identification tags.

NEC said that compared to conventional technologies, such as barcodes, mIDoT does not require the use of printing or glue. Dots can be easily applied to a wide range of objects by automated machines, or even by hand, enabling the technology to be conveniently used by both consumers and operators.

Moreover, NEC said dots can be identified by using a database in the cloud, enabling physical objects to be linked with digital data.

mIDoT analyses camera images with a specialised algorithm to quickly and accurately recognise tiny patterns in the ink of individual dots, which are difficult to duplicate or identify with the naked eye.

Due to random particles in the ink, identical patterns are unlikely to be formed, enabling each 1mm dot to become one of the smallest and most reliable identification tags in the world.

“This technology is expected to be used for a broad range of applications, including identification tags for ultra-small electronic components and products which are too small for the use of barcodes; tags for managing goods that are lent or taken out; keys and tickets used for access control; and identification tags for linking physical objects with digital data in the cloud,” said Akio Yamada, general manager of NEC’s data science research laboratories.