You probably already know about QR codes. You can’t really escape them from at the moment – they seem to be everywhere.
QR Codes are those square 2D barcodes (right) that came about in 1994, and that the Japanese have been using for about the past fifteen years. However, because mobile technology in Europe and the US has only recently caught-up, QR codes seem to be enjoying something of a revival lately. Listen to most US-based marketers and you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’ve just invented the things.
Printing companies are one of the biggest fans of QR codes – and it’s no wonder. QR codes not only bridge the communications gap between ink-on-paper (or maybe that should be “toner-and-substrate”) and the internet. Their current “flavor of the month” status is helping to make print relevant again in a world where marketers are increasingly spoiled for choice in finding the most relevant communication medium for their target audience.
Unfortunately the vast majority of QR code-based campaigns are painfully ineffective, since it often seems to me that the the thinking behind them didn’t really progress much further than “Hey, let’s use a QR code to get people to our website.” As with many new technologies, we have to wait until the novelty has worn off before we see some creativity or innovation, and and idea of the potential of the medium. Examples such as barcodes for buses, or the virtual supermarket.
So, QR codes can be great in print. But QR codes don’t have to be printed.
Take a look at the video below (if you can’t see it, then click here). It’s an experiment combining a QR code with 3D animation, post-production motion graphics, and an eerie, dramatic soundtrack – all connected to a mobile-optimized website.
Of course, to get the full effect you need to have a QR code reader app on your mobile device as, at the moment, none of them ship with one built-in (Why? Who knows).
Here are some links to free QR code readers for various mobile devices:
iOS (iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad 2): Scan
Android: QuickMark (QuickMark is also available for iOS, but I think that Scan is a far better app)
Windows Mobile: i-nigma (also available for iOS and Android)