Need a file on your phone? Shoot a video of it

New technology from Fujitsu lets users download files to their phones by taking a video of them on a computer screen

Fujitsu is working on a new technology that will let users download files from PCs to their mobile phones by shooting videos of them.

The company says it has developed software that embeds tiny groups of pixels, invisible to the human eye, in computer screen images. When recorded as a short video using a smartphone app, the pixels can be decoded into an ID used to identify the host computer. The file that is being displayed on that computer is then downloaded to the phone.

The method can be used to transfer any kind of file to a phone, including presentation slides, word processor documents, or photographs.

Fujitsu showed the new method in Tokyo on Monday, and the end result is point-and-shoot downloads for smartphones. Users shoot a few seconds of video of the file they want on a monitor, and the software creates a wireless link and starts the download.

The company is pitching the technology as a solution to the problem of direct file transfers between computers and mobile phones. Transfer by cable or Wi-Fi require manual setup and configuration, while the use of cloud-based services sends files through third-party servers.

Fujitsu says the technology can also be used in the other direction, to send photos or other files directly from a phone to a computer. The link between the two devices is established in the same way, using video shot of a computer screen by a mobile phone, and then data selected by users can be uploaded.

The platform also works for large screens and projectors, so for example multiple users viewing a presentation can download a file at the same time.

Fujitsu's method requires software on the computer, to embed ID pixels in the display and track which file is currently being displayed on screen. Smartphones need an app to record and process the ID and handle the downloads. The software was demonstrated on Monday on Android phones and tablets.

Phone and camera manufacturers are increasingly experimenting with encoding data as light and color and then sending it visibly. Last year, Casio demonstrated an iOS app that encodes and sends photos and short messages using patterns of flashing colors.

Fujitsu hopes to commercialize the technology next year. It will demonstrate it at Mobile World Congress, the massive phone exhibition held in Barcelona, Spain in February.

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