IFCO's asset tracking produces results (sidebar)

The color wheel decoded

It’s a colorfully different automatic identification system, but how does Visidot’s ColorCode™ work? It starts with a high-resolution digital image taken by the Visidot reader. The image is processed using proprietary detect-and-decode software, explains Roger Hecker, Visidot’s product marketing manager. The software efficiently checks the image pixel-by-pixel to find the ColorCode, after which the program’s algorithms decode the information and translate it into a number format. Those numbers match up with a Global Returnable Asset Identifier, or GRAI number, which is the same number that appears in IFCO’s bar code.

Because the GRAI data also includes company and type of crate, which IFCO already knows, IFCO uses the ColorCode to carry the returnable plastic container’s serial number only.

IFCO’s ColorCode is a row of four “pies,” each with six colored “slices.” Each slice of color—red, yellow, green, blue, or black—corresponds to a number. Visidot says a pie can have as many as 10 color slices. Because of this pie approach, the software only needs to detect the color in the slice, rather than the whole slice. That permits Visidot to capture assets in motion at a distance (up to 30 feet) and at extreme angles (up to a 60° angle), Visidot reports. The software allows for accurate identification even when the ColorCode is distorted or partially blocked; it is also unaffected by moisture, metal, or radio-frequency interference, according to Visidot.

The same software program that permits decoding of the ColorCode also decodes 2-D Data Matrix symbology. Visidot upgraded its software with this capability in 2004, Hecker says.

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