After having recently seen an old episode on CSI: NY the other day I have finally discovered the QR Code (short of Quick Response Code). I would never have thought that anything would come from my addiction but since watching that episode (it was series five, episode seven entitled ‘Dead Inside’, in case you were wondering) I have uncovered what seems like a whole new world of communication.
The QR Code by definition is a matrix code or 2D bar code. It can be scanned on your compatible mobile phone via camera using a QR reader. The code can contain simple text, web address or phone number and will simply output it’s content to your phone.
There are many ways in which you can get hold of a QR reader. There are many different apps barcode reading apps available for the iPhone and Android. Kaywa have an easy to use QR generator and also a downloadable QR reader for those who don’t already have access to one.
The QR Code has been trademarked by it’s Japanese creators Denso Wave Ltd since 1994. They are common in Japan, in fact they are everywhere from billboards, posters to cereal boxes and coffee cups. This blog written by Cliffano Subagio is a great example of the Japanese obsession with them.
From my research into these fascinating codes I have managed to send my imagination wild and wanting to push it further. At the moment I can only see QR Codes being used as an alternative to print media rather than creating a relationship between print and web. I see examples of business cards that have all of a business’ contact details on them and a QR Code that when scanned adds the same information to your phone address book. Or, drawing from the usage in Japan, a code on a cereal box might contain the nutritional information of that product. These methods are good however only seem to be replacing print content with web, but why not create strategies that would combine the two? In the CSI: NY episode the QR Code was on a blank postcard placed in bars amongst other advertising leaflets. When the code was scanned it gave the user a web address to a site which encouraged the user to confess something. They’d write it on the card and send it to the webmaster. The postcards are displayed on the site anonymously.
Now this got me thinking of new ways in which to use QR Codes. The obvious one being promotion, but give it a twist. Instead of creating a code that has a URL to your website’s homepage try creating a page that doesn’t link into your site and display an exclusive offer that is only available to the people that access it via the QR Code.
Following off from this idea I’ve discovered a guy in the United States that makes QR Codes into scannable temporary tattoos. I could imagine using this as a way of gaining entry into a club. VIP perhaps?
Remember that it is a code and is designed to conceal it’s contents until revealed by a compatible phone. This gives QR Codes an edgy underworld type of feeling especially as they are not yet widely recognised. Let’s be creative in their use, they are a great way of making your audience feel exclusive.