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Interacting with Patrons Through Their Mobile Devices :: Image Scanning

QR codes are not a new technology. Their recent adoption and widespread usage has even led the technology into a pervasive state, mostly due to their misuse. However, I want to address QR codes in this series — because I believe the technology is brilliant. I enjoy the potential of its concept, and what has recently developed from the technology in the form of Augmented Reality codes.

Originally developed in 1994 by Denso Wave Incorporated, the Quick Reference Code was devised to increase the scan-ability and data storage capacity of the standard linear barcode.


Today, they are most often seen in advertising. Their modern pervasiveness is understandable as an inexpensive, easily produced, versatile method of transmitting information. However, their effectiveness as a mode of relaying information is reliant on their method of use. The QR code needs to provide a direct extension of the information in its proximity, and not be an ambiguous entity.

One method of accomplishing the direct association is to brand your QR codes, and take advantage of their ability to error correct.

branded QR codes

By taking the extra effort to develop branded QR codes, a higher level of interest may correspond with usage. But, never rely on assumptions; one of the greatest benefits of using QR codes is their ability to be easily tracked with google analytics. If you are going to put forth the effort to develop them, you might as well be able to quantify their effectiveness.

Their purpose is a direct call to action, a bridge to transport users to supplemental information immediately. This functionality should be used advantageously.

  • Provide users with a helpline
  • Establish a vCalendar for an event or send them to a Facebook event page
  • Send them to a Dropbox they can obtain important documents
  • Supply them with contact information or a direct email address
  • Provide one to your Digital Library App
  • Make one for each of your Social Media accounts

There are several ways to use QR codes in an effective manner. Using them appropriately as a relay, or extension, of anticipated information should reassure your users to continue to use them.

The future of image scanning

Although, many have been dismissive about the QR code as a technology, it has initiated the field of image scanning codes. It’s evolution from QR to image triggers has removed the stigma of ugliness associated image codes. Any picture can now be a trigger to interact with, and the prospects of this technology are extraordinary.

A recent example of image scanning technology has been exhibited in the recent publication of Modern Polaxis, an interactive comic book. The creators utilize image triggers throughout the comic to access Flash media, through their published application, to incorporating animation and sound functionality. The ability to overlay these two media functions creates a level of interaction that is exciting to discover. It has even led to the new media form of AR Tattoos.

This same technology has been made more readily available for users to develop on using the app Aurasma, and has already been brought into the classroom.

Aurasma allows users to link real world environments with correlated digital content to develop a dynamic digital experience. Because the technology utilizes Flash, it allows developers to overlay menu options, audio, video, or just addition imagery or animation. It is a technology I hope to see more of in the future.

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