Problem with a QR Code

QR Codes are starting to appear on signs, products, business cards and ads in the US. They've been extremely popular in other parts of the world that have historically had more advanced cell phone technology, but with the growth of the iPhone and Andorid-based phones, they are finally gaining traction here.

A QR code is a variant of the UPC bar code we've seen at the supermarket since the 70s. They add another dimension, which means they can represent more data.

To use one, you point your cell phone camera at the code and use the phone's software to scan it.  Often that will take you to a website.

Here's and example I generated at kaywa.com:

When you scan that QR code, it takes you to this blog, which may be pointless since you're already here, but it would be useful if I put it on a business card.

This is really a long way to go to make my point.  That point is that the only QR code I saw at the Northwest Flower and Garden show was a big miss.

Northwest Flower and Garden Show_2011-02-26

In order for a QR Code to work right, the phone has to be able to read it. The black and copper design had two things wrong with it.  It was low contrast and a little reflective.  That made it hard for the camera to lock on to.  It's an example of form getting more attention than function.

The other problem was that it was dark in that part of the convention center.  That made a marginal QR code illegible for many smart phone users.

This annoys me because the field is still so young in the US. If the only QR codes new users encounter are ones designed in this way and displayed in these circumstances, then they are less likely to give well done QR codes a chance.

And that would be a shame.

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