There were times when Microsoft was more interested in plain old software development, but the past few years, Redmond has increased its focus on research manifold. The result is that the company is now on the forefront of several innovative technologies.

One such technology is 3D printing, and Microsoft Research is trying to get this interesting new field one step further with a new project that embeds coded tags into any created objected.

Intuitively called InfraStructs, the prototype that Microsoft Research has just developed eliminates the need for electronic chips or barcodes that are used to protect a particular product.

Microsoft says that using specially created devices, manufacturers can automatically scan the printed object and read its coded tags, thereby saving both time and effort.

The company explained the technology:

“The benefit of such an approach is that manufacturers can embed unique information—serial numbers or even simple programs—in coded tags by designing them as part of the 3-D printed product.

This overcomes the need to insert radio-frequency ID (RFID) tags or electronic chips, which add to manufacturing cost and complexity, or using bar codes, which must be applied externally and are vulnerable to tampering.”

3D printing, although in its infancy, has started to play a much more important role for Microsoft, as the software titan has already announced that it will be bundling support for the technology in its upcoming operating system, Windows 8.1.

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