December 21, 2014

Potential for 2D Barcodes is Limitless

As individuals and teams are busy plugging away with their current Android projects, I’d like to appeal to them. In fact, it doesn’t matter what platform you are writing for. Symbian, Apple, RIM, Windows Mobile, or Linux. All can take advantage of this. The technology behind the 2D barcodes has been largely ignored in the United States.

2D, or Quick Response (QR) barcodes have been around for over 13 years yet essentially nobody can tell you how they work. Most people haven’t seen them before and the few that have will most likely just say “Oh yeah, I’ve seen them before. What do they do again?”

Here’s a quick primer: They were initially designed for tracking parts in auto manufacturing, but they’re now used in a much broader commercial context. Aimed at mobile phone users, the codes often store text and links to URL’s. You’ll find them in magazines, on signs, business cards or pretty much anywhere you can put a sticker. A user with a camera phone equipped with the right software can scan the image of the QR Code and their phone will respond accordingly, often taking the user to a website.

So where in your daily life could you find it beneficial to use this stuff? Here are a couple of examples that could really benefit from this technology. Real estate agents could put barcodes on their fliers and sheets with houses listed. Rather than just seeing one picture with a price, imagine being directed to a site that has an entire gallery, video walk-through, and FAQ’s.

If you’ve ever stopped at a car lot late at night only to find a sheet of paper stuck to the window of a locked car, you’ll see where I am going with this. Mileage, available features, and warranty information might be provided to you simply by scanning the sticker on the windshield. And you don’t have to stand there and talk to high pressure salesmen!

Perhaps you’re at an amusement park and you need pointed to the nearest restroom. Click the sticker on your map and get turn by turn directions. Looking for your doctor at the new facility and aren’t quite sure where to go? You can see what I’m getting at.

Getting back to those who are developing for Android I’d like to say this. Your entry into the Android Developers Challenge is sitting right here in front of you. If I knew how to write a program, here’s what I would do: Write an application where a user can scan the front of their ATM card and be directed to the nearest ATM location, taking advantage of the GPS or tower-based location features.

Unfortunately I’m only a blogger.



  • bismark

    these things are everywhere in japan. every advertisement on the train has one on it, so while you are riding along and you see something interesting, you just aim your camera phone at it and it will load up the company’s website. and since many places in japan are allowing you to use your cell phone as a credit card, the possibilities here are quite exciting.

  • Anonymous

    I was gonna write that one cool use could be for people to take pictures with their camera phones, and get SMS’d relevant info back to their phones.

    But I see the commenter before me beat me to it. :D

    Cool site btw. Do you have an RSS feed, or do I need to come back daily? Clicked it randomly from my Spottt.

  • Swampthing

    “The technology behind the 2D barcodes has been largely ignored in the United States.”

    By whom? Big companies?

    I know that it has not been ignored by a company that owns the IP that offers one click to content from the physical world around us. Neomedia Technologies

    A mobile device user can click on the following with the Neoreader to get a response, 1D barcodes(EAN, UPC, etc.), 2Dbarcodes(QR, data matrix, Aztec, maxi), keywords, trademarks, logos, slogans, RFID, billboards, etc.

    This application offers more than any reader on the market today.

    I have been waiting for a large comapny to see the light here in the U.S.

    Personally, I would love for a large company to adopt this technology for the greater good. I would rather walk down the street and say it into the browser and get an instant response.

    I do not see why everyone has tunnel vision over QR codes being promoted by Google.

    THERE IS A WHOLE OTHER WORLD THAT CAN BE CLICKED ON TO GET A RESPONSE IF THERE ARE NO QR CODES AROUND.

  • Todd

    This Pet Shop Boys music video has a bunch of QR barcodes in it. I haven’t tried it, but supposedly if you watch on a HDTV and hit pause, you can use your mobile phone’s camera and take pictures of them and they actually work.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dotvLcWV3jw

  • Mark

    A friend of mine over here in the UK – Gia Milinovich – was instrumental in promoting the recent 28 Weeks Later movie and used a large QR code poster in London to advertise the movie. Search her site for “28 weeks later” or “qr code”. Not sure how effective it was, although it did get coverage on BBC News 24.

  • srowen

    Hi, Sean from the “ZXing” project here (http://code.google.com/p/zxing). This will be a QR Code / 1D barcode reader available for Android; in fact it’s available now. Just wanted to plug it here and say, have no fear, there are plenty of good readers already out there, including for Android. Now, to figure out how to increase adoption…

    The applications are endless indeed. We’ve gotta get readers in people’s hands, and make the technology easy for people to take advantage of. I think this almost surely implies we should get behind open formats like QR Code and Data Matrix. I confess I don’t quite understand the need to scan an ATM card to locate nearby ATMs, how that involves barcodes, but there are surely applications along those lines.

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