QR codes are a simple but brilliant technology. They are a pictorial representation of data (like a traditional barcode) but can contain (or encode) a richer array of data – a URL, text, SMS, email address, phone number or even a business card. And they are popping up everywhere. For example…
You can install Firefox for mobile by scanning a QR code on the page for Mozilla’s showcase application for Firefox mobile (Spark):
You use a freely available QR code reader application that uses the phone’s camera to take a picture of the QR code and then take appropriate action, in this case install the Firefox app on your phone.
The Google Groups on the web lets you go to the mobile Groups application by scanning a QR code:
If you are a BlackBerry user, you can display your unique QR code on your phone that friends can scan to add you to their friends list:
While in Bangalore recently, I noticed a McDonald’s billboard in Bangalore with a large mysterious QR code on it. This is something advertisers have been doing for a while:
Google trends confirms the growing popularity of QR codes:
So why are they becoming so popular as a tool to engage users in the digital economy? Because they simple, yet powerful. They have the following characteristics:
· Pretty – they are a type of digital art
· Mysterious – evoking curiosity and intrigue
· Convenient – eliminate typing, clicking etc. and make like easy for the user
· Provide Instant Gratification – there’s something really satisfying about taking a picture of something and having your phone automatically take some action
· Versatile – have a large number of uses
If you think about it, QR codes in the “real world” enhance the user’s experience of the real world by augmenting it with digital information. Ultimately then, QR codes are a simple and effective way to achieve augmented reality.
For example, if I come across an interesting web page, I bookmark it or save it for later reading using a tool like Read it Later. QR codes can be used in the same way, as bookmarks for the real world. Imagine walking past a restaurant in your neighborhood. If it had a QR code displayed prominently, you could scan it for checking out later. What would be even nicer is if the QR code linked to a website (like JustEat) that allowed you to order takeaway. Fascinated? Google “innovative uses of qr codes” to discover more.
If you’re wondering how you can use QR codes into your own business, check out my company Infragistics’ QR code generator here: http://labs.infragistics.com/silverlightdv/2010.3/#/Samples/Barcode/BarcodeQRCode.