While Quick Response (QR) codes received some controversy last month when Facebook was rumored using them to generate bar codes on users' profiles, the technology does have merit and continues to enhance the use of augmented reality in our every day lives. Last fall, I even speculated that "tag technology" could potentially replace Google Search at some point in time. Still a prediction on my part, but one worth watching over time.
Very prevalent within Japan, it's been said that the country could become become one of the first augmented reality societies. The N Building, located in the Tachikawa District of Tokyo has been layered with a giant QR code that, when viewed through an iPhone using the appropriate app, takes you to a designated Web site that displays up-to-date store information, complete with content, images and videos. You can also make reservation and download shop coupons.
N Buidling, Tachikawa District, Tokyo
In this video, you will see that the app also interfaces with Twitter, so tweets pertaining to the N Building can be viewed as well.
QR Codes will also allow cityscapes to not be overwhelmed with signage and will serve as an improvement of the quality and accuracy of the information itself. This week to celebrate Internet Week 2010, Manhattan outfitted Times Square with QR coding called, "The City at your fingertips."
The third annual Internet Week will host over 150 events between June 7-14 at dozens of locations throughout the city. Using QR code technology, New Yorkers are able to instantly access information about the innovative online services and applications provided by the city. This short vid will provide you with some of the excitement that this QR code is causing at the Thomson Reuters building in Time Square.
Times Square - long known for it dizzying array of neon signage dating all the way back to the Camel billboards emitting cigarette smoke in the 1950s…
Camel Billboards of the 1950s
...it's come a long way, baby . . . where QR codes might replace signage altogether at some point in time. Similar to the N Building in Tokyo, the QR codes at this event directs users to Web sites for more information. But in addition, there is also information pertaining to free ringtone downloads and a chance to win tickets to a Times Square viewing of the upcoming Tony Awards.
The agency behind this effort is NYC Media with the assistance of 311, NYC Department of Transportation, NYCulture Calendar, NYC Business Express and the City of New York Parks and Recreation.
While some are critical of QR codes as being limited in providing a robust augmented reality experience, I think once one of the major players like Twitter, Facebook or Apple embrace the technology, you will see greater and more innovative uses. According to Jeff Weidauer in his Retail Customer Experience report, he notes research that predicts that "two-thirds of retailers are planning a digital mobile initiative launch before the end of this year, and many of these will include a QR code capability."