AirCode: Unobtrusive Physical Tags for Digital Fabrication

Dingzeyu Li, Avinash S. Nair, Shree K. Nayar, Changxi Zheng

ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) 2017

We present AirCode, a technique that allows the user to tag physically fabricated objects with given information. An AirCode tag consists of a group of carefully designed air pockets placed beneath the object surface. These air pockets are easily produced during the fabrication process of the object, without any additional material or postprocessing. Meanwhile, the air pockets affect only the scattering light transport under the surface, and thus are hard to notice to our naked eyes. But, by using a computational imaging method, the tags become detectable. We present a tool that automates the design of air pockets for the user to encode information. AirCode system also allows the user to retrieve the information from captured images via a robust decoding algorithm. We demonstrate our tagging technique with applications for metadata embedding, robotic grasping, as well as conveying object affordances.


Paper / Paper (low resolution) / arxiv
Youtube / Video (100MB)



We thank the anonymous reviewers for their feedback. We are grateful to Arthur Autz for the support on 3D printing facilities, Daniel Miau and Brian A. Smith for the feedback on writing, Henrique Teles Maia for proofreading and narration, Yonghao Yue and Shuang Zhao for rendering suggestions, Klint Qinami and Anne Fleming for proofreading an early draft, Daniel Sims for managing hardware equipments, and Jason Hollaway for imaging and hardware suggestions. This work was supported in part by the NSF Award CAREER-1453101. Dingzeyu Li was partially supported by an Adobe Research Fellowship.