IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, vol. 14, no. 12, pp. 1977-1989, Dec. 2005.

Hardcopy Image Barcodes Via Block Error Diffusion

Niranjan Damera-Venkata (1), Jonathan Yen (1), Vishal Monga (2), and Brian L. Evans (2)

(1) Halftoning and Image Processing Group, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, 1501 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304 -

(2) Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Engineering Science Building, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1084 USA -


Halftoning Research at UT Austin


Error diffusion halftoning is a popular method of producing frequency modulated (FM) halftones for printing and display. FM halftoning fixes the dot size (e.g. to one pixel in conventional error diffusion), and varies the dot frequency according to the intensity of the original grayscale image. We generalize error diffusion to produce FM halftones with user-controlled dot size and shape by using block quantization and block filtering. As a key application, we show how block error diffusion may be applied to embed information in hardcopy using dot shape modulation. We enable the encoding and subsequent decoding of information embedded in the hardcopy version of continuous-tone base-images. The encoding-decoding process is modeled by robust data transmission through a noisy print-scan channel that is explicitly modeled. We refer to the encoded printed version as an image barcode due to its high information capacity that differentiates it from common hardcopy watermarks. The encoding/halftoning strategy is based on a modified version of block error diffusion. Encoder stability, image quality vs. information capacity tradeoffs, and decoding issues with and without explicit knowledge of the base-image are discussed.

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Last Updated 01/16/06.