QR Codes To The Rescue In The Gulf To Address The BP Oil Spill

While Quick Response (QR) Codes still have a long way to go in gaining traction in the US, the BP Oil Spill may be the right catalyst to introduce this technology to more and more folks who own smartphones.

While prevalent in Japan, it wasn't till recently that QR codes began to grace buildings in the Western hemisphere. In June to celebrate Internet Week 2010, Manhattan outfitted Times Square with QR coding called, "The City at your fingertips." (See my previous post, titled, "QR Codes Augmenting Our Lives From Tokyo To Manhattan").

This week, the Thomas Reuters will once again be used with the assist of a QR code - this time to promote social activism that just might insure that the Gulf be fully restored.

Thomas Reuters Building - Times SquareThomas Reuters Building - Times Square
The effort is part of a larger nonpartisan campaign called 'Be The One.' Supported by the activist group  "Women of the Storm," the celebrity-backed initiative is soliciting everyone to sign their petition which states, "I demand that a plan to restore America’s Gulf be fully funded and implemented for me and future generations.”

This video was shot in the New Orleans area and in various other locations around the country. It features (in order of appearance) Sandra Bullock, Blake Lively, Wendell Pierce, Lenny Kravitz, Jack Del Rio, Alfre Woodard, Dr. John, Harry Shearer, Clay Hensley, Dave Matthews, Bryan Batt, Justin Shiels, John Goodman, Emeril Lagasse, Roberto Méndez, Eric Harvey, Payton Manning, Leah Chase, James Carville, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Lisa Mackel Smith, Shirley Lee, Anne Milling and Mary Matalin.

ScanLife, makers of mobile barcodes were responsible for that Thomas Reuters' billboard QR code. Now when passers-by point their smartphones at the code, that scan will direct them to a mobile site where they can watch the Be The One video (see above) and sign the petition. To date, as of this posting just slightly under 120,000 folks have registered at the site.

The code is also applied to t-shirts that are now available at Cafe Press. All purchases provide additional support to address the oil spill devastation in the Gulf.

QR codes will undoubtedly get a big boost as a result of this campaign. And while non-profit causes are one its best uses, within a very short period of time you will see QR codes used by location-based social networks - the likes of Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl and others -  where you'll be able to scan merchandise at retail shops and menus at restaurants before even entering these establishments.

So get ready to start utilizing this new augmented reality innovation. According to Jeff Weidauer in his Retail Customer Experience report, he points to 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."