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Buy Entertainment Tickets on the Internet and Print to Your Desktop

For those who dread waiting in line to buy movie tickets on premier night, who hate standing in the will-call queue for a hot new play, or who simply enjoy the ease of e-commerce, hope is on the horizon.

Computer scientists with the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) Jacobs School of Engineering and NEC Corporation, Japan (NEC) have developed a new application, which allows users to purchase tickets on the Internet and print them to their desktop. The only equipment the user needs is an Internet web browser, a desktop computer, and a laser or inkjet printer capable of at least 300 dots-per-inch (dpi). No special software, equipment or paper is required.

The Internet Ticketing application, called TRITON, was created by Bennet Yee, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering, and by Noriya Kobayashi, a visiting scholar from NEC Japan. The University and NEC are exploring commercial opportunities related to the project.

“The most important part of the application is a two-dimensional digital bar code that your printer records right on your ticket,” said Yee. “This bar code contains information about the type of ticket you purchased and a digital signature which proves that you actually paid for your ticket.”

Vendors can use a standard hand-held laser scanner, like the kind used to scan items in the grocery store, to read the bar code. The scanner is networked to a laptop computer outfitted with special software, which determines whether the bar code is authentic and whether the individual ticket number was previously scanned.

The bar code also includes error-correction information, so the bar can be scanned successfully, even if a user wrinkles his ticket in his pocket or inadvertently marks the ticket with her pen.

The technology is similar to that used in the U.S. Postal Service’s new Internet Postage program offered by companies like Yee helped create the underlying technology for generating the two-dimensional bar code and detecting fraud while working as a graduate student with Professor Doug Tygar at Carnegie-Mellon University.

The Internet Ticket application will be tested in a free demonstration to be offered with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography on Oct. 30, 1999. A limited number of participants will be invited to visit a web site where they can print free tickets to the Birch Aquarium. Yee and Kobayashi will be at the Aquarium from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to scan the tickets as they are presented by patrons.

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