Martin Tod and the QR Code of Doom

When Martin Tod got excited about QR codes a couple of years ago, I got excited too. It looks like an interesting technology that has got to have some fun application that I can do something with ((Newspaper Club is in this category too, but so far, nada))

Martin was initially sceptical that QR codes would ever take off but commenters on his blog attempted to argue him round.

Later, in the general election, Tod produced some posters with a Twitter reference and a QR code in the corner. If I recall rightly, this was more of an in-joke for cognoscenti rather than a large scale production process, and I doubt more than a dozen or so were actually made or displayed. I’m pretty sure far more people will have seen photographs of the posters on the internet than actually saw the posters.

Yet this sorry joke somehow made a Top 10 list of advertisers using QR Codes.

Reading through the list of ten, remembering these are the top ten, all of them seem portrayed as monumental disappointments and missed opportunities for the advertisers who used them. Appearing on ads below ground. Appearing too briefly on TV slots for anyone to scan them. Misunderstanding that any barcode app can read them, not just the Debenhams iPhone tie-in.

Doesn’t that disappointment just vindicate Martin’s original contention that QR codes are never actually going to take off?

It is still a shame, and I’d love to be able to do something funky with them… how about giant posters for Lib Dem Voice at Lib Dem conference…?

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3 comments on “Martin Tod and the QR Code of Doom

  1. dr_nick says:

    I like the idea of qr codes too. They could be really useful in my life…

    For example if all wine bottles had them I could more easily catalogue my wine collection without access to supermarket databases, though many bottles from wine clubs bypass the supermarkets and have no back label on anyway.

    I found a company that would print a qr code of your own design onto tshirt – I think this would be ace, but what message would you want to display? “mine’s a pint”? ” if you can read this you’ve pulled!”? everyone I’ve ever mentioned it to has just dismissed me as a geek.

    They used then in theatres at a hospital I worked at to log the equipment and instruments used on cases, for reordering more. But this could easily be done with 1d codes.

    There was a promotion on Pepsi bottles at one point, but I was disappointed to discover the codes were simpl y a web link.

    Best application I have come across is for direct download links for android aps, so if browsing on your desktop you can point your qr app at the code on screen and it will download/ install the app from the market.

  2. Steve says:

    It’s not all bad in the land of QR Martin. I agree, the top 10 list you mention is filled with examples that didn’t quite get it 100% right, but it’s a young tech (for the UK) and there are far worse uses out there. These 10 were all good attempts. If you monitor the web and twitter for QR info you will see how there is a rising surge in interest and many practical uses coming from it. Boarding pass when flying for instance, or for making micro payments. Mailchimp have released a great little app for creating and scanning promotional codes.

    @dr_nick – Wine companies have been using their own ISBN style system called AVIN which, when coupled with QR codes, make for highly detailed info available on bottles very easily.

    Those codes you saw in the hospital are far more likely to have been data matrix codes. They are text only, but can carry 2,335 alphanumeric characters. Very useful for cataloguing parts and equipment.

  3. Rob Blackie says:

    To explain the concept to friends, I tried to get a QR code reader to read the code on a bottle of my cough medicine over Christmas.

    Inevitably the cameraphone couldn’t focus and so it didn’t work. Quite appropriate really.

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