A.U.R.A or Advanced User Resource Annotation system is a cool Mobile client application that allows you to use your Windows mobile camera to take pictures of barcodes from any retail product and annotate them with tags/metadata and share this with the community. This is the official description from the AURA team in Microsoft Research:

The Advanced User Resource Annotation system (A.U.R.A.) is designed to provide the ability to access and author annotations on objects and places using machine readable tags. In our system, a user can associate text, threaded conversations, audio, images, video or other data with specific tags. Users can also review the tags and descriptions of the objects they have encountered and annotated in a custom web portal. Users may selectively make the items they have scanned public to other AURA users resulting in a collectively authored database rating, reviewing and commenting on a wide range of objects, products and places. Physical annotations can be shared with other users and selected by users’ reputation statistics and other properties.

Software requires a Pocket PC (thanks Bryant) Windows Mobile device and depending on the capability of the device's camera, you might need a special lens that allows you to take macro shots of the barcodes.

 

You can order a lens from the research team if you send them a self addressed stamped envelope to:

Project A.U.R.A. Lens Kit Request
Microsoft Research, Community Technologies Group
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA  98052
United States of America

Doesn't work well on my Excalibur, time to order a lens!