Friday, July 17, 2009

Could 2d barcodes bring new life to print media?

Quick Response (QR) or 2d barcodes have been big in Japan for years. They look like random ink blots but are actually symbols for encoded text and they just might bring print media into the 21st century.

The code generation software is available free from many sites on the web, as is reader software. When you use your cell phone's camera to "snap" one of these codes it can take you to a website or display text messages. So far this technology has been vastly underused in this country.

What this has the potential to enable is hard copy text with hyperlinks. If you've got a web enabled cell phone, you can be reading a paper, magazine, catalog or any printed material and point and click your way to more information, related sites, updates or even purchase a product. Advertisers could place them within their print ads, postcards, brochures, etc.. You could put one on the back of your business card that could take people directly to your website or blog. You could put one on a concert or event poster to give people access to immediate online ticket purchase. Newspapers could drive traffic to their websites for the latest continuous updates on stories.

Unlike links on a webpage, 2D links are always there, always on. You don't turn off a poster when you leave the room, and you don't have to navigate to it when you come back. They could even be placed on buildings and landmarks to link to information about them and the businesses within them. Imagine a reader embedded in a car windshield that could be used to read a code from a sign on the side of the road and display a roadmap centered on your location. That site could further link to area business directories and other locally relevant information (for the passenger to read of course). The technology is already here and it's inexpensive. We just haven't made widespread use of it to date.

It's not rocket science. It's a fairly simple solution to a nagging inconvenience; having to type in a search term or URL on a tiny little keypad. It doesn't require any transmission other than the light rays that bounce off from everything, all the time. It can be deployed as fast as you can print and post.

Cell phones alone were not enough to make anywhere/anytime internet surfing as effortless as it needs to be for widespread acceptance. These little inkblots combine the permanence and convenience of hard copy with the fluidity and utility of the web. The print industry may well be revived by enhancing the medium many thought would destroy it.

For free qr code generation visit:

For links to free QR code reader software:

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