QR codes – Big in Japan…


…takes me back to a sun drenched beach on the Greek island of Agistri.

The Island of Agistri
It must have been 1984 and Alphaville’s Big in Japan was being played all over a very hot Europe. Four of us had flown out to Greece after leaving Polytechnic, (don’t think they have these anymore), for a holiday of sunshine and retsina. The Island then was a step back in time. Today the place looks much more civilised – which is a shame

Just over 25 years later QR codes (2d barcodes) are big in Japan and they are coming our way. You scan the codes using a smartphone app., the code is “decoded” and instigates some sort of call to action.

Let me give some tangible examples of their use & benefits:


  • meCard / vCard – Instead of having to key in someone’s contact details to your address book a QR code enables you to just scan and save……done!
  • URL – Any assistance you can give someone to get to a URL has got to be worth it – (especially for those with my eyesight). Just scan the QR code and it resolves directly to the website without any re-keying.
  • SMS – a QR code can instigate an SMS to a designated number.
  • Voicecall – A QR code can instigate a telephone call just from the scan.
  • Event ticketing – Either printed or virtual. Services are appearing which will administer ticket sales, ticket generation, reminders and event check-in. The “ticket” is in the form of a QR code which is scanned on entry to the event. The information held within the code can flag VIPs, inform seat numbers etc.
  • Share who’s arriving with your guests by displaying a live check-in board inside the venue.
  • Geolocation – A QR code can resolve to a map location. Scan the Agistri code on the right to see where the island is. Imagine the different twist you can add to a treasure hunt using these.

There’s an app for that – There are many apps to choose from for QR code scanning. iPhone, Android and Blackberry all have many at their disposal. Checkout i-nigma, QuickMark, QRdeCode for a start.

I’ll write more about this topic as we move into 2011. 2011 is mooted to be the year of the QR code, (so was 2010), but with organisations like Waitrose* and M&S getting in on the act for Christmas 2010 QR codes could well be on the verge of being big in the UK.

*Waitrose offer Delia And Heston Blumenthal recipes via QR Code App.

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