Digital watermarks are imperceptible patterns embedded into printed or recorded material. Devices with more sensitive “eyes and ears,” like smartphones, can detect the unique ID within the pattern and link the item to the Internet — like a QR code.

The watermarks are hidden within printed material, like product packaging or photographs, and don’t take up space the way a QR or bar code does.

Ed Knudson, Digimarc’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, claims that the technology can enable retailers and brands to more deeply engage with smartphone-carrying consumers at every touch point along their path to

Digital watermarking helps to increase the speed of checkout.  With new POS imaging scanners, a shop assistant only needs to wave the product past the scanner, rather than hunt for the barcode on the package.  It also offers benefits across many more channels other than just packaging.  For example, since a digital watermark can be easily scanned via a smartphone, shoppers can identify a potential purchase and information on the product from promotional coupons to customer reviews.  They can even be embedded into video and audio, and have already been integrated into the print magazine and catalogue world, with retailers and brands thinking of new ways to create deeper consumer engagement.

While its entry into retail is relatively new, Digimarc is well established in the digital watermarking arena.  To find out more about Digimarc click here