Yellow Ink: the Missing Link

The BBC is carrying a fascinating story about how Fujitsu is developing a technique for printing concealed hot-links to web sites and phone numbers in print. The idea is that you will be able to point your mobile phone at an ad and it will call the appropriate number or link to the web site. If every page carried its own web address in invisible ink you could point your phone to book mark any page that interested you while you were reading it in print.

The Exact Editions system already automatically spots and marks up email addresses (seven on that page), urls (over 20 on that page) and phone numbers so that they become clickable links (only the numbers in international format are live on the cited page; and the saved search highlights ‘Tel’ so that the numbers are easier to spot) . This sounds pretty straightforward, but it is a bit smarter than you might think, because with the EE system these links are not occuring in ordinary HTML, they are ‘hot spots’ on the JPEG image of a page which is what we deliver to the client.

The neat thing about Fujitsu’s yellow ink and the EE hot spots is that the print image becomes a real partner in the development of the web. It is the ability to link from print pages to web pages and from web pages to inky pages that promises so well for the future of print. The web becomes a natural extension and ‘reservoir’ of print as well as a replacement for it. Another reason for print publishers to cheer up.