I was talking to someone about the use of QR codes the other day. His view point of QR codes was very pessimistic, but understandable. He pointed out that he could type in a URL faster than scanning in a QR code. Initially I was pessimistic about his outlook, however, he did have a point. Are QR codes really that quick?
As you may already know QR (quick response) codes are small square patterns that contain information. These two dimensional barcodes can contain a lot more data in them compared to the traditional one dimensional barcodes you seen on pretty much all products.
So, QR codes, just point, scan and retrieve yeah? Well not quite. Here I will illustrate the longest process you will have. (This may be slightly exaggerated for emphasis, but I’ll let you challenge me.)
1) Figure out what QR codes are
2) Find out what application you need for your ‘state of the art’ phone
3) Download said app
4) Open up QR code scanning app
5) Point phone at QR code
6) Retrieve QR code data
7) Open URL in browser
8) Waiting for URL to load (depending on mobile internet speed)
9) URL opens, not designed specifically for mobile
10) Swear to never use QR codes ever again
Ok, so this was a little exaggerated but the principle is there. Now lets see the process of what we all did before QR codes came to be.
1) Enter URL into web browser
The friend I was talking to pretty much said that it is quicker to enter a URL into a browser rather than scan a QR code, and now I think about it, yes, it is a lot quicker. There is still a massive variable to how long the URL is to whether you could search in time.
I know QR codes can be used for more than just URL’s but the URL seems to be the most common usage of QR codes out there. A URL links to anything that you want to in the digital, this is why it is the most useful to use in QR codes (providing you have decent internet connection and your bloody website can be used of a mobile phone!)
The most important point to all this is, QR codes are not intuitive at all. Signposting surrounding the QR code needs to be used in order to give some kind of hint of what to do (if you are new to them) and also where it is leading you.
There are several examples that are available already that take a lot more integrated route into information retrieval. My favorite at present being Google Goggles. It’s nothing new, this application has been around for a year or so, but the premise of being able to scan any object and potentially connect that to brand information, related content or a specialized site is a fantastic use of object recognition technology. Google Goggles is still in its early days, but from what I have seen so far, I have no doubt that this is the beginning of the way in which we will be able to consume information with the digital in the physical world.
As I am sure you’re aware there are several other applications around that are around the public domain that let you do similar things such as Layar, an augmented reality application. Allowing you to see and extra layer of information in the real world. Sci-Fi has landed (or did a few years back), technology over the next few years is going to be highly interesting. I cannot wait to see how the QR code plays out well, in the UK for now anyway. Will it be successful in the UK, or are bigger and better technologies going to over take the QR code before it’s found it rightful place?
Please comment, discuss, debate, shout and scream. Information consumption is changing dramatically, be apart of the debate.
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