Remember the QR code? These things were going to blow-up, right? QR codes contain enormous potential to bridge the gap between printed material and your mobile screen. I’ve seen some decent examples of their use both in application and design… although the design solution usually involves trying to hide them in cleaver ways. Changing their color to blend in, hiding images within the code or hiding the code altogether (but if it’s hard to find, what’s the point?)
So with that in mind, we wondered if there had been advances bridging the print-to-screen gap. Are there any QR coed alternatives out there? I quickly found two apps that didn’t require the use of the visually challenging QR code and started my investigation.
The Layar app allows you to scan a picture or other graphics that results in additional content on screen. For example, I scanned a picture of an item in a catalog that — once scanned — played a video of that item in action on my mobile device. It was pretty cool as it appeared as if the static image I scanned was now moving! There were additional call to actions — like view product info — but after the “magic” of the moving image wears off, its up to the marketer to decide how to best use this technology to drive metrics. Additionally this app is introducing us to the idea of Augmented Reality, or the live, direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Cool!
I watched a promotional video on this app developed by Ricoh. It allows you to scan pretty much anything printed producing a range of mobile possibilities. For instance, scan the cover of a book and you’ll be presented an overlay menu of link options like: Amazon (to purchase book), YouTube (to watch reviews or related videos) or Facebook and Twitter (to share the book and your thoughts). This certainly extends the physical experience for the user, giving the marketer a ton of digital promotional options.
So, I found these interesting, but don’t consider this an endorsement of either technologies — I just like the idea of different solutions. Give them a shot yourself and you can decide. And these weren’t the only two out there. Companies like Google have also developed technologies that allow a smartphone to scan images and deliver additional content. In the end they may have the advantage because they can integrate the technology into hardware, as opposed to having to access via an app, which is ultimately the biggest obstacle to the growth of the QR code.