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QR Codes Are Dead, Trampled by Easier-to-Use Apps

New Technology Can Make Almost Any Product Interactive, No Download Needed

By Published on . 54

I was an early proponent of QR Codes, but now I have to admit that they are history. Invisible ink and augmented-reality apps are replacing the clunky codes. The new technology is superior in that you don't have to take a picture of the code, which then records your contact information and sends you to a website, video or document, or sends you a text message giving a web address. With the new apps, you just run your smartphone over the content and get the enhanced features immediately.

Here's a sampling of the new technologies that will surely supplant QR Codes, permanently.

As Springwise reports, the Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbu has launched the AR News app, which enables kids to scan specially marked articles with smartphones to reveal more kid-friendly versions of the stories.

The app was developed by Dentsu, which was challenged to make newspapers appealing to younger readers. Articles suitable for children are printed with blue borders. Using AR News app, readers who place tablets or smartphones over those articles will see a simplified Japanese alphabet for those still learning to read, along with animated characters and graphics, pop-up headlines and explanations that make the topics easier for kids to understand.

Blippar is a mobile app that lets users pull information, entertainment, offers and augmented-reality 3D experiences from markers placed on newspapers, magazines, products and posters. No clicks, no delays, no codes, says Crunchbase: just instant gratification.

Another new technology, Touchcode, is an invisible electronic code printed on paper, cardboard, film or labels. When you touch your smartphone or tablet to it, tickets sing, toys come to life, or you can confirm the authenticity of a brand, just to give a few examples. Items imprinted with Touchcode's invisible ink look no different from standard print products, until you touch them with your smartphone.

The QR codes did have some brilliant and successful applications, like the mobile-code campaign for an independent music store in Hong Kong that sold music by allowing users to listen to and buy the tunes of 14 bands, half of which sold out their inventory. But more often, the codes were deployed poorly in spots where they couldn't be scanned, like billboards, or -- perhaps lamest ever -- on license plates. Some QR Codes require a proprietary scanner good only for that code, which few people are likely to want to download. And, while many people still have no idea what a QR Code is or how to use one, instructions rarely have been included.

What are the lessons of QR for brands using the new technologies?

  • Make it easy for consumers to use.
  • Explain how it works, in clear, concise language.
  • Employ it only when it can add something unique to the user experience.
  • Make sure content or ads that contain it won't be put in places where cellphone service is unavailable.
  • Make the apps available only for situations when using them makes sense.

It will be fascinating to see whether these new technologies are used both creatively and effectively. The potential is vast. Hopefully agencies won't blow it this time around.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
B.L. Ochman, president of whatsnextonline.com, is an internet marketing strategist and blogger who can be found Twittering, at WhatsNextBlog.com or with her newest venture, Pawfun.com.
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