More experiments with QR codes


There’s a lot of experimenting going on these days with QR codes, those square images we see with increasing frequency on everyday items like utility bills, business cards, even building permits, and which you scan with your mobile device’s camera and a barcode-scanning app and which then lets you perform some kind of action or interaction.

I came across an implementation of one this weekend in the form of a QR code published in the culture supplement in Saturday’s Telegraph newspaper, that you see above (click it for the full size).

A couple of things struck me about the Telegraph’s use of a QR code this way, the first time I’ve seen it thus in a UK newspaper. First, the printing in my copy of the newspaper was a bit out of register yet the camera on my HTC Desire smartphone still recognized the code and took me to the Telegraph website page it linked to (more on that in a minute). The barcode app I use is Barcode Scanner for Android.


Second and more significantly, the extensive explanation of how to use it that the Telegraph included. So if you’d never seen one before, or had but didn’t know what it was or meant, that will be of major help. I’d expect to see a QR code on its own eventually, with no such explanation as everyone will be familiar with one – you see a QR code and point your mobile device camera at it – and used as a matter of course in printed publications to provide additional or exclusive content. How soon will that be? Depends, I guess, on how frequently we see QR codes and how familiar we become with them. Before the London 2012 Olympics begin in July 2012, I’d say.

I very much like the idea of using a QR code to offer additional or exclusive content the way the Telegraph did. In this example, though, it wasn’t executed well – instead of the "exclusive video interview with Billy Elliot‘s Jamie Bell," I just got the film section home page with lots of links to figure out, but not the one mentioned.

Still, a great idea and I look forward to more.

(I took the picture, above, of the result of scanning the QR code with my HTC Desire on a Nokia N95 8GB. That old phone still is a terrific digital camera. And Google, what possessed you to make taking screenshots on Android phones a complete nightmare compared to the iPhone?)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Sara at Saving For Someday

    Excellent post! I love that brands/businesses are getting creative. One of the best I’ve seen so far was in an airport and it was a QR code for a bank and when scanned it led you to a free Sudoku site that said thanks for scanning, you must have some free time in [Insert Airport] so enjoy a few games of sudoku courtesy of [insert brand]. I thought that was awesome!

  2. PacoBell

    I can’t wait until the day when I can wear see-through mobile video eyewear that automatically recognizes QR codes with its built-in camera(s) and further superimposes a button that can open additional content that floats just above the “real” article. What I do not relish is the abuse from advertisers to this new medium. I suppose someone will have to create “AdBlockAR” ;)

  3. Niki Wheat

    Excellent post. I completely agree with you about advertisers including the explanation about QR codes for now. I know it can be a drag and expensive to use up vital advertising space with an explanation. For right now at least, to get a good response from this type of campaign, I think advertisers will have to add the explanation. It won’t be too long before the US catches onto the fad!

  4. Dave Jobe

    I am looking for people who are trying retail, street and shop level QR codes on signage in a retail district that wants to attract the technorati shoppers. Please let me know if you have seen any retail/shopping districts out there. Thanks, Dave Jobe

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