|This page answers common questions about Digit-Eyes labels.
Q. What is printed on the Digit-Eyes labels?
A. A square, machine-readable digital code.
This is called, by convention, a "bar code" because
the original digital codes of this type were composed of
vertical bars of varying widths. Digit-Eyes uses
ISO/IEC18004 standard bar codes, sometimes called "QR"
or "Quick Response" codes. The term "QR
code" is a trademark of Denso-Wave, Incorporated. These bar
codes actually look like squares full of black-and-white dots
with little targets on three of the four corners.
Q. My labels are oblong, not square.
How do I know where the code is?
A. The location of the physical label is readily
apparent by touch. The Digit-Eyes code is always printed exactly
in the middle of the physical label.
Q. Do I have to print a full sheet of labels at once?
A. Yes and no. Audio labels print in full
sheets; you control the number of text labels that you want to
Q. How many characters can each label hold?
A. 50 on the very small ones, up to 250 on the larger ones.
Q. Do bigger labels hold more information?
Q. Which labels are best?
A. It depends on what you plan to do with
Size: The primary factor associated with label size is
the scan distance, or how close you have to be to scan
it. A larger label allows you to scan from farther away,
but you have to be to scan it, because the
camera on your phone needs to get an image of the whole
label. Using the iPhone 3Gs, labels that are 1 in / 2.5 cm tall will be read
at 2 - 6 in / 5 - 15 cm. Labels that are 4 in / 10
cm tall can be read from roughly 2 feet / half a meter.
Depending on what you are doing, you may want to buy more than
one size of label. The scan distance is about double with the iPhone 4/4s and
the new iPad (sometimes called the iPad 3). And it is about double again with
the iPhone 5 and the iPod Touch 5 -- you'll be able to recognize labels that are
1 in / 2.5 cm in size from about 2 feet / 60 cm.
Materials: There are also differences in the
material from which the label is made. Some labels can
be printed on either an inkjet or laser printer. Labels
made specifically for inkjet printers should not be used in
laser printers because the adhesive may fail and the
labels may come off in the printer. Labels made
specifically for laser printers may not accept the inkjet ink
as well as the labels designed for use in the inkjet.
Standard labels stick extremely well to most surfaces;
repositionable labels can be easily removed and may not be
what you want for long-term storage.
Q. What will the labels stick to?
A. They stick best to dry surfaces.
Avery-Dennison (the manufacturer) states: "The adhesive
used on white laser labels is an acrylic emulsion-based
permanent adhesive. This type of adhesive is suitable for
general purpose adhesion to most papers, envelopes, corrugated
shipping containers, file folders, bare and painted metal,
polypropylene and polyethylene bags." The
labels also readily stick to themselves, which allows them to be
folded over and used to label items like yarn (making sure, of
course, not to fold the bar code in half!)
For more information from Avery about labels, click here.
Q. Can I use the labels on items of all shapes?
A. We recommend using them on flat surfaces.
The autofocus cameras do not render an accurate image on curved
surfaces where the total amount of curvature is more than half
an inch / 1 cm. What does this mean in practical terms? In
testing, we found that labels on the curved side of a 1.5 liter
wine bottle were readable while labels on the curved side of the
smaller 750 ml wine bottle were much harder to scan. As a
result, we put our labels on the bottom of the wine bottles that
we were keeping in the rack (better for the wine to be on its
In practice, most items have at least one flat side.
The only item that we were not able to find any
surface where we could place a label and have it be readable was
a croquet ball. And we really didn't want to label that...
Q. What is the shelf life of the labels?
A. Avery says "This can vary greatly depending on
environmental conditions (heat, humidity, etc.) but usually 2-3
years. However, if a person's definition of 'shelf life' is
really 'life span,' Laser & Ink Jet labels have a life span
of 10 - 15 years."
Q. Will the labels come off?
A. Not easily. They are designed to
withstand handling by the equipment at the post office without
coming loose. Extreme heat or cold on a continuing basis
may affect the adhesive, but we put the labels on items in the
attic and in the freezer and they are still stuck on tightly and
readable after a year.
Q. Should I reuse labels?
A. No. The labels are designed for one time
use. The adhesive on the back doesn't work as well the
second time. In practice, you will find that the labels stick so
well that they are actually very difficult to remove in one
piece. And they are cheap enough that you don't have to.
Q. Can the labels be washed?
A. Yes, if you laminate them. We have found that ordinary labels
can be laminated using off-the-shelf plastic lamination material
and that they survive many washings. You can also buy special labels from us that
are printed on a material that will withstand dish washing and go through the clothes
washer or dry cleaners. See the separate FAQ on
washing and clothing labels.
Q. What is an audio label and how does one work?
A. Digit-Eyes text labels are a particular kind of barcode label that
you create on the Digit-Eyes website and print on the printer attached to your
computer system. Each audio label is unique. The audio label is the key
that you use to record and retrieve a recorded message on your phone.
When you initially print an audio label, it is just an empty serial number.
When you stick an audio label on something and scan it with the Digit-Eyes on
application your phone, you'll be invited to make a recorded message. The
Digit-Eyes application then will store your recorded message on your phone.
When you use the Digit-Eyes application on your phone to scan the label later,
the audio content that was saved on your phone is played back to you.
After playing a recorded message, you can change the recording, leave it as
it is or delete it completely.
Q. What are the advantages of audio labels over text labels?
This is different from a text label where you type content into the label and
your phone voices that content to you.
Audio labels are useful when you don't know exactly what you will be
labeling or where you want a lot of content. You can, for instance, use
them to record long "post-it" notes to yourself. The
recording associated with an audio label is naturally private because it is
stored on your phone and only accessible when the Digit-Eyes application on your
phone is used to scan the label again.
Q. So the "audio" for the audio label is stored on my phone?
A. Yes. In fact, it does not take a connection to the host computer to
record, play back or re-record an audio label.
Q. Can I change a recording?
A. Yes. Every time you use the Digit-Eyes application on your phone to
scan a label and play back a message, you are given an option to change the
recording. To do so, just click the "record" button and make a new
message. The new message becomes the one that is retrieved when the code is
Q. What is the length limitation of an audio label?
A label 1,000 hours long will use about half the storage on the iPhone that has
16Gb of memory. We believe it is unlikely you'll want a label that long,
but it is certainly possible.
Q. How many audio labels can I have?
The only limit to the number of labels you can have is the amount of storage on
your phone. In practice, most labels are between 15 seconds and 1
minute in length. Given an average length of 30 seconds, this means you
could have 120,000 messages on the 16GB iPhone and roughly 500,000 messages on
the 64GB phone.
Q. Will my labels use up the storage on my phone? How do I get rid of
an audio label I don't want?
A. After using the Digit-Eyes application on the phone to play the message, just
click the "delete" button to remove it from the storage of your phone.
If you have, for instance, used up a can of something and are putting the
container in the recycling, scan the label one last time as you put the can in
the bin. After the recording plays, click "delete" and the
recording will be erased.
Q. Fine, so I want some -- how do I get audio labels?
A. There are several ways to go about this
- If you need washable labels that you can sew into garments, click here.
- If you'd like to buy some preprinted labels and have them mailed to you,
- If you are printing labels your own, you'll need to start by getting some
blank address labels. Click here
for a list of the labels you can use. Then, using your free account on the
Digit-Eyes website, you'll be able request audio labels from the Digit-Eyes
website for the size of address label that you purchased. The Digit-Eyes
website will give you a PDF file that contains the codes you requested,
formatted so that they will fit on your sheet of labels. Using your own
computer printer, you will simply print the PDF file on one of the sheets of
address labels. Click here
for the tutorial on creating audio labels
In all cases, when you want to label something, just stick a label on the
item you want to identify and scan the label with the Digit-Eyes application on
your phone. Digit-Eyes will prompt you to make a recorded message for that label
and will save the recording in the storage on your phone. When you
use the Digit-Eyes application on your phone to scan the label later, the audio
message you recorded is played back.
Q. Is there a separate charge for making labels on the website?
Q. When I make Digit-Eyes audio labels, will I need to specify anything
to be put on the label?
Q. But there is something on the label. What is it?
A. A long, unique serial number (the labels look alike to humans, but they
are actually all different.)
Q. What are the serial numbers used for?
A. They are the key that is used to store your message on your phone and
to retrieve it.
Q. Do I need to specify a starting value for the serial numbers
for my audio labels?
A. No. The system manages this and makes sure that no serial number
is issued twice.
Q. Do serial numbers have to be unique?
A. Each number is issued only once, but there are times that you might
want to use the same number on more than one item. The same number will retrieve
the same recording. This could be to your advantage in some situations:
You will probably think of other cases where this might be handy.
- Labeling CD's is an example of this -- it is handy to have the identical
number on the CD itself and on outside of the case. That way, when the
CD is out of the case, you know which one it is.
- Leftovers are another case. Put one label on the container and
record what is in it and when it was stored. Put a matching label on a
post-it note and stick it to your fridge. You can then simply scan the
post-it notes to find out what is in your fridge.
- Washing labels are another example. If you create two identical labels and
stick them back-to-back before encasing them, you'll be able to scan the tag
from both sides.
Q. How do I make multiple copies of the same label?
A. The label file you get is a PDF. Just print it more than
Q. What if I want to label a bunch of the same thing with the
same recording -- like putting the content and date purchased on each container
of a six-pack of yogurt? Do I have to record each label individually?
A. No. Digit-Eyes remembers the recording you used last and
lets you copy it to a new label. Scan the label that has the recording you
want to copy and listen to at least part of the recording to make sure it is the
one you wan (or just do the recording for the first item). Put a new
label on the next item, scan it and just click the button to tell Digit-Eyes to
copy the prior recording to the new label.
Q. Can other people retrieve my recordings?
A. No; the recording is stored only on your phone and in your iTunes
backup library, so the content is private to you.
Q. What if I lose my phone? Will my labels be lost too?
A. No; when you backup your phone to iTunes, a copy of all information on
your phone is saved -- including your labels. If something happens to your
iPhone and you end up getting a new one, when you first hook the replacement
phone up to iTunes, it will ask you if you want to restore from your backup. The
correct answer in this case is "Yes".
Q. What if I decide to get rid of my phone? Are the audio labels
A. No. The recordings are on your phone and iTunes, so if you get
rid of your iPhone, you'll effectively be getting rid of the recordings as well
(although you could retrieve them from your iTunes backup if you changed your
mind and replaced the phone.)
Q. How do I know if a label has been used?
A. Scan it with the Digit-Eyes application on your phone. If it has been
used, you'll hear your recording.
Q. Will Digit-Eyes run out of serial numbers?
A. Not anytime soon. The serial numbers can be as long as 100
digits. That is a very big number; enough to make Digit-Eyes labels
for every grain of sand on Earth -- and have enough left over to do the planet
Mars as well!
Q. What is a text label and why would I make one?
A. Text labels contain text rendered into bar code format.
When you request text labels from the website, you'll be able to specify up to
100 characters of content to be encoded in each label. When you scan them
with the Digit-Eyes application on your phone, text labels are simply read out
loud to you by your phone.
Q. What are the advantages of text labels over audio labels?
A. Text labels are useful when you know in advance what you want the label to
say or where you want to share content (perhaps inventory tags or labels that
identify critical household papers.) The content associated with a text label is
public because anyone who has Digit-Eyes on their phone can read it.
Q. How do I get text labels?
A. Using inexpensive address labels that are available at office supply
stores, at "Big-Box" stores like Wal-Mart or online, you print them
yourself on the printer attached to your computer. So, first, you'll need to get
some blank address labels. Click here
for a list of the labels you can use. There are two steps in making
and using a text label:
- Using your free account on the Digit-Eyes website, you'll be able request
text bar codes for the size of address label that you purchased.
When you request text labels on the website, you'll see a sheet of input
boxes that are organized like the labels you bought and you'll be able to
type up to 100 characters of text for each label. The Digit-Eyes
website will give you a PDF file that contains the codes you requested and
the file will be formatted so that the codes will fit exactly on your sheet
of labels. Using your own computer printer, you will simply print the PDF
file on one of the sheets of address labels.
- Labeling is simple. Just stick the label on the item you want
identified. When you use the Digit-Eyes application on your phone to
scan the label, the phone will read and voice the content of your label to
Q. How to I specify the contents of a text label?
A. After you tell the system what kind of labels you have, you'll get an
input form on the screen that is organized the same way as your sheet of labels.
There is an input box for each label. Type into each box whatever you want
to be encoded into that particular label.
Q. Do I have to fill in all the boxes?
A. No. If you leave an input box blank, no code is printed on that
Q. Do I have to print a full sheet of labels at once?
A. No. You can type just the ones you want to print now. Note that the
manufacturer of the labels for the laser printer says it is
"inadvisable" to run the same sheet of labels through a laser printer
several times because the sheet may curl and the labels may come off. They
offer no such caution about the inkjet labels.
Q. How many characters can each label hold?
Q. Can I change a text label?
A. No. Once the text is printed, it is what it is. If you want it to
say something different, you'll need to make a new label.
Q. How many text labels can I have?
A. As many as you want.
Q. Do text labels take up storage space on my phone?
A. No. The text is encoded in the label; nothing is stored on the
Q. Do I have to stick to alphabetic characters when typing a
A. No. You can use symbols and numbers in addition to upper and
lower case alphabetic characters when creating your Digit-Eyes labels. You
can also use non-English characters such as those in the Arabic, Chinese, Greek,
Hebrew, Hindi, Hiragana, Kana, Kanji, Korean or Russian character sets.
Q. Wow! So I can make text labels in languages other than
A. You can certainly make them and they will be decoded and displayed correctly
on the iPhone screen, however VoiceOver may not be able to read them to you.
According to Apple, VoiceOver, the voicing software on the iPhone, can speak 21
languages including Bahasa Indonesian, Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (China),
Chinese (Taiwan), Dutch, English (US), English (UK), English (Australian),
Finnish, French (Canada), French (France), German, Greek, Italian, Japanese,
Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian,
Russian, Slovak, Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Spain), Swedish, Thai, Turkish.
To change your VO language tap Settings > General > International >
VoiceOver is silent when it finds a character it cannot render, so it will
correctly voice Digit-Eyes labels that use the Japanese or Russian character
sets but it will not voice Digit-Eyes labels in Arabic, Hebrew or Hindi
even though labels using these character sets will be correctly displayed on the
Thus, if your text labels are to be used by the sighted, you can use any
language; if you are making labels for people who are not sighted, you'll need
to use only languages that VoiceOver supports.
Click here for more
information from Apple on this topic.
Q. How do I know what a text label says?
A. Scan it before you stick it on anything. VoiceOver will
read it to you.
Q. What if I decide to get rid of my phone? Are the text labels
readable with anything else?
A. Yes. Any QR code reader can read the text labels. Only Digit-Eyes and
Digit-Eyes Lite voice them to you.
Q. Can other people read my text labels?
A. Yes, if they have a QR code reader such as Digit-Eyes or Digit-Eyes
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