The Global Language of Business
GS1 US Digimarc faqs

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the announcement really about?

GS1 US has entered into a broad strategic relationship with Digimarc Corp. whereby the experience and strength of GS1 US’s role with industry, the standards we develop and the technology services we offer, combined with Digimarc’s advanced digital watermark technology, are coming together to create DWCode. DWCode is a technology and service that marks a step change in product identification with revolutionary implications for improving business efficiency, creating robust access to product information, and transforming the consumer experience. This DWCode will be a peer format to UPC, GS1-QR, RFID w/EPC for product identification using GS1 Standards. GS1 US will operate a portal, educate and support our membership in their adoption and use of the DWCode.

2. Why is GS1 US collaborating with Digimarc?

GS1 US has been an innovator since the introduction of the barcode over 40 years ago, and has continued that heritage of innovation with the introduction of numerous product identification and tracking technologies over the last 40 years. Today GS1 US is embracing a new way to help businesses move forward and consumers to get the data about the products they use. Together, Digimarc and GS1 US will support the needs of members and consumers by leveraging unique product identification and improved data quality through an enhanced invisible-to-the-untrained-eye barcode. By providing faster and easier access to accurate product information, the relationship will greatly improve the commerce experience by improving the quantity and quality of product information available to consumers and greatly speeding front-of-store checkout.

3. What is Digital Watermarking? What are the benefits of Digital Watermarking in general and Digimarc’s specific offering?

Digital Watermarking allows any printed material, most often in product packaging, to be encoded with a watermark barcode across the entire surface of package, such that it is virtually invisible to the untrained human eye while still being very easy to read by a properly equipped point-of-sale scanner or mobile phone camera. Digimarc is a major patent holder in the market and has a system built around the core digital watermarking capability. The result is improved product identification, speed at check-out, unprecedented reliability and ease of use when identifying products by consumers in aisle, at home and at point of sale. It goes beyond existing barcode technology by making any product package a gateway to a much richer, digital experience – all without visibly impacting the packaging aesthetics. Through our relationship with Digimarc, the digital watermark optimized for use using the GTIN will be branded as a DWCode. We believe DWCode has the power to boost brand loyalty by increasing consumer engagement, speeding checkout for shoppers and even improving inventory tracking. As a result, we foresee that retailers and brands will increasingly embrace DWCode for more extensive marketing campaigns and better customer engagement while bringing significant improvements to traditional supply chain uses.

4. What can we expect from this strategic collaboration currently?

GS1 US will provide education, training, billing, access portal and other services for its members to foster the adoption of DWCode technology. GS1 US will promote DWCode by showcasing the integrated solution as a complement to traditional barcodes at tradeshows, seminars and other marketing activities and enable members to obtain the new barcode via GS1 US’s website.

5. Why is accurate product identification so important?

Current methods of electronic identification work well for point-of-sale systems but often have high product data error rates when used for product information lookup, leading to misinformation and missed opportunities. Consequently, consumers are often not able to access the level and quality of product information they require. This is especially true for e/mCommerce, as well as in-store shopping enhanced via smartphones. As smartphone and tablet shopping increasingly becomes the new normal for commerce, GS1 US sees leveraging Digimarc’s technology as a way to create the next step in product identification and information transparency that enables our members to meet the needs of today’s mobile-centric consumer.

6. How can I obtain a DWCode?

Traditionally, a company that has a product would turn to GS1 US to obtain a GS1 Company Prefix and a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), which is a unique identification number that is necessary for commerce. As part of the collaboration between GS1 US and Digimarc, brand owners will be able to embed their unique GTIN number directly into a DWCode from the GS1 US website. GS1 US will provide consultation and support to retailers, brand owners, and application developers regarding questions, business use cases, and implementation as needed.

7. Is there a cost associated with obtaining a DWCode? If so, what does the pricing structure look like?

Yes, there is an annual cost per unique product. The low volume pricing starts at $50 per product per year. At larger volumes, price ranges are available; and at the highest volumes, an enterprise pricing model is in place that caps the expense at a fixed rate.

8. Is there special printing involved when using digital watermarking and the DWCode?

There is no special printing or ink involved. There are layout and packaging considerations that must be taken into account. Digimarc’s current channel partners offer services to the industry to perform these packaging layouts and design considerations to achieve the right balance between quick scanning and packaging design element adherence. Both GS1 US and Digimarc can provide guidance to retailers and brand owners interested in implementing the technology.

9. Other than being invisible, what’s different about the DWCode compared to a QR Code?

The DWCode requires a number of product data fields that are provided by the brand owner, and will be made available to the consumer when they scan the code. QR codes do not require this brand accurate data to be captured at the time of code creation. Also the QR Code needs to be positioned to be scanned while the DWCode is spread across the entire package thus not requiring any specific alignment to the scanner or smartphone camera.

10. Will retailers be required to make a new technology investment to scan the DWCode?

If they have not already done so for a variety of reasons, retailers will be required to install image-based scanner technology to read the DWCode. Today, most of the leading point-of-sale technology vendors offer these scanners or upgrades to industry.

11. Is DWCode becoming a new standard?

No. The use of this technology is not intended to result in the creation of a new standard. Instead, the relationship between GS1 US and Digimarc will use technology to leverage and extend the infrastructure that delivers on GS1’s existing product identification standards. We anticipate that DWCode will complement, and not replace, the existing barcode used over 5 billion times per day for years to come.

12. When will DWCode be available on the GS1 US website?

We will be showing prototypes of the ordering and management system at the National Retail Federation “Big Show” next week and expect general availability by the end of February, 2016 through the GS1 US website.

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GS1 US Digimarc faqs


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