transmedia and a nice cup of tea
I recently read that in 2011 only a third of the population know what a QR code is and only one in ten have ever used one. They were quoted as disappointingly low figures but I think they are quite high.
My colleague Tim Kindberg has been working QR codes for ten years (yes, they have been around that long) and is bored with waiting for the cross-over moment. I think it has arrived, but not as a big bang - more a gradual expansion.
The thing that prevents a massive public excitement with this useful feature of smart phones is that QR codes are generally so badly used.
Technically a QR code can trigger an event on your phone such as sending you to a website. Often the codes themselves and the pages they send you to are badly made so that the content isn't optimised for your phone.
2. Reader software
There are loads of free QR readers available for your phone. Many of these enforce all sorts of clicks and permissions that stop the magic occuring. If only you could click and your phone justs starts playing a video, that would be cool. Instead you find yourself reading long urls and having to click, then, of course, wait for a download. The i-nigma application is one tht avoids this.
3. Beautiful artwork
QR codes are a bit ugly and alienating, so beautiful artwork is essential. The intriguing poster above by Warbasse Design for the TV series True Blood invites exploration. The Cityville design below is by QR Arts.
Designs can be incorporated into the code without undermining the ability to read it as the Time Magazine poster shows.
4. The next level
If the QR code remains simply a way of sending someone to a website it will die very quickly. Soon everyone will have used one, but only once. But the QR, with a clever back end is capable of much more than this. It can be as versatile as other touch technologies such as RFID and NFC. A QR code that knows stuff about you (with your permission, of course) like which other tags you've seen can open up a world of powerful, networked, real-world experiences. The cross-over is happening, albeit slowly, as lumbering behemoths like Time come on board, but there are few, if any, examples of its use as a way of turning the world into an internet of things. I'm looking forward to that and Tim Kindberg and I are trying to make it happen with our Itsatouchthing project.
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