Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Our first QR code experiment goes live

July 29th, 2008 by Seb Chan

The Powerhouse Museum has gone live with its first public experiment with QR codes.

QR codes are really glorified barcodes with the capacity to hold far more information than a standard barcode. Because of the prevalence of mobile phone cameras and the desire of telcos to drive data usage on mobiles, QR codes are getting a bit of a push at the moment outside of Japan (where they began).

We are currently using them in the campaign for Sydney Design 08. The QR code appears in the festival catalogue which is available all over Sydney (and can also be downloaded as a PDF from the site). The code itself redirects readers to a ‘hidden’ web page which provides a special offer.

Here’s the code. You should be able to decode it from here if you are savvy.

Update! if you have a lower resolution phone camera (iPhone included) then maybe try this simpler code. I think there may be a density issue on 2MP cameras and code readers.

We will be closely tracking its use and take up. We are keen to see just how many people are currently using and reading QR codes – especially seeing as one of the Australian telcos is running an enormous promotional campaign around them and the Olympics.

My personal feeling is that we won’t get a lot of take up – but as a zero cost experiment it is important to experiment. What will be even more interesting is how many people use their mobile phone to connect to the promo site (incurring the high data charges of 3G internet in Australia) versus reading the code and visiting the hidden site from a computer.

Hopefully by being an early adopter we can iron out some of the inevitable issues around QR codes early on so that we can build on our findings for future uses.

Tags: 12 Comments

  • kintopp

    I wasn’t able to decode the image with the new “2D Sense” iPhone app (it works on other qrcodes). Have you had any luck decoding it this way?

  • http://www.awm.gov.au Liz

    I’ll be interested to hear what happens with your experiment. I hope we get to the stage quickly with these things that non technically savvy people like me can get them to work without feeling stupid.

  • Seb Chan

    I’ve now updated the post with a less complex QR code which should work on lower resolution phone cameras.

    The problem with a less complex QR code is that the actual resulting text is far shorter in character length (the more dense code handles up to 250 characters).

    These are the kind of issues that low risk trials like this will hopefully reveal.

  • http://www.webdirections.org Maxine Sherrin

    John and I have been thinking about experimenting with QR Codes as well for various ventures we have in mind. Will be really interested to see how you go with this.
    My instinct is skepticism with these, though I love the underlying principle of a portal to allow you to move more seamlessly between the real and the virtual worlds.
    I have to say though, those Telstra ads are just plain ugly. Very uninviting and not at all intriguing. I’d love to have access to their data as to the success of that program as well :)

  • kintopp

    People are doing all sorts of fun stuff with qrcodes in different contexts. I especially liked these commando nerd patches.

  • http://openobjects.blogspot.com Mia

    The larger one worked perfectly on my N95, what a shame I’m not in Sydney to use the passes!

  • PaulC

    QR Codes are rockin’.

    Now, if your phone is like mine, and seems to have some major software troubles with the various available QR apps out there… then you might wish to decode this some other way.

    Here’s a web-based decoder for those who are interested:
    http://www.drhu.org/QRCode/QRDecoder.php

  • http://grahamclarkaustralia.wikispaces.com/ Graham Clark

    I tried capturing the simpler version since I have a 2G iPhone with a 2MP camera. In doing so, I tried the decode using both 2D Sense and Barcode. I tried it many times but I couldn’t get it to work. I have been able to get it to work elsewhere but it takes a lot of messing around. Good on you for being on the cutting edge. I’ve been doing a lot of research into QR codes myself with a view to possibly introducing them into my workplace. It seems like the technology isn’t quite there yet. However, I think this technology offers a lot of potential.

  • Frankie Roberto

    Worked fine for me on N95 (using the barcode reader which is buried in sub-menu beneath sub-menu).

  • http://www.doherty.net.au LD

    Excellent! This is a great use of QR and very pleasing to see a design festival making use of this technology.

  • Random

    “Beetagg” seems to work well, you can get it from the App Store on your iPhone 3G.

  • http://openobjects.blogspot.com Mia

    This blog post gives a pretty useful scenario (for me, anyway) for QR codes: “By placing something like a QR code in the margin text at the point you want the reader to watch the video, you can provide an easy way of grabbing the video URL, and let the reader use a device that’s likely to be at hand to view the video with…”
    http://ouseful.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/video-print/