The key point of QR codes isn’t so much about augmented technologies as it is about lazyness. When people have a destination we try to get there with as little effort as possible. That’s why we invented cars and highways and radar detectors. We’re not procrastinators and it’s not a bad thing. Our tools are designed for efficiency so the QR code seems like a perfect method for anyone who wants to communicate anything.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about: The Quick Response Code is a suped up, two dimensional bar code created by Japanese company DENSO WAVE in 1994 to make sure car parts ended up in the right place on the construction floor. Using a mobile app you can take a picture of the QR code and translate a small amount of data. Enough to have a short message or open your phone’s browser and go to a website. It saves the space of writing out all that text and time for the enduser who doesn’t have to type in a URL.
Because a QR code holds more data than a typical UPC barcode, people quickly realized they could transmit useful info directly from any physical medium to the handheld computer while not eating up tons of space on their print material. You not only get the traditional benefit of whatever your print piece is, but also the benefit of a physical hyperlink. Your 2D paper now exists within the intangible dimension of endless possibility.
It seemed like the cyber-age of 80s sci-fi would become reality. QR codes were showing up on business cards, maps on yard sale signs, allergy warnings and wine pairings on menus, tattoos, Tesco’s grocery delivery system that lets subway commuters in South Korea buy groceries, even billboards (whoever explains to me why this is a good idea will totally be getting a carton of Goldfish in the mail).. Because a little square can be applied anywhere there’s no limit to the way these codes can permeate our daily lives. Flying skateboards are totally around the corner.
But somewhere between limited data plans, and the phone-camera’s demand of being relatively still and well-lit the usability of QR codes has yet to reach seamless functionality. Really, they are only links to a website you need a 3G plan to use. The destination page requires a phone-screen-friendly interface and low enough bandwidth to render before the user gets bored and remember that people are lazy. No one’s going to see a poster with a QR code and stand there, squinting at their screen, waiting for the camera to focus. The quick route is to bring up the browser and speak the URL without stopping.
QR’s acceptance is still in the valley and its featureset has yet to be explored for general use by people who aren’t obsessed with Tron. Phones, cameras, and data transfer need to be faster but by the time that happens advances in rival and parallel tech could spawn a new QR system.
And they’re still going to pop up on billboards.
by AJ Z
Tags: QR Code