They are nothing new (first presented in 1997) but I’ve recently begun to see more and more QR codes about the place and actually using them. In the Quad exhibition I visited the other week, you could snap a photo of the QR code and get an audio guide of the exhibition. It’s a great development of the gallery audio guide, where you might usually have a headset and select the number relevant to the artwork you’re looking at.

To use a code you take a photo of it with your smartphone, then use an app to decode the QR (I use QrDroid which works well and is free). The code will be translated into words of some description, a name and contact number or in the Quad’s case, a web address to the audio file. You can then use this data on your smartphone to visit the web site or add it to a new contact.

When we visited the hospital with our daughter for some allergy testing (fish, but it turns out she’s not allergic, just has sensitive skin!) she was given a wrist band, printed on the ward which included a QR-code. I decoded it the other day and it had her name and initials, date of birth and some other numerical data on.

Sticking a QR-code on your business card is a pretty popular idea, it’s a decent one but it does direct the design of the card a little, the codes have a certain aesthetic quality, and this could be a little limiting.

Cathedral Quarter MSTag

The Derby Cathedral Quarter launched an audio tour of the historical area which is accessed using second similar technology called Microsoft Tag (same idea but the addition of colour allows extra data to be included in a smaller image). The codes can be found on street signage.

I’ve seen some great applications around the web, my favorite and one I imagine I would use, features a QR-code on a ‘for sale’ board. Snapping the code would take you to the spec and detail of the property, saving the effort of visiting the Estate Agents web site and searching for the property when you get home.

Other uses include that by Bulmers who have a code on their bottles taking drinkers to a promotion on the website and event ticketing, allowing unique data to be stored on each digital or physical ticket to be scanned on the door. The Raddisson Edwardian included a QR code on it’s menu, which took the decoder to a video of the chef preparing the dish.

A few idea’s I’ve thought of but not yet seen, include QR codes on packaging with details of how to recycle, a code on a band poster could take you to a booking page for their tour or an MP3 of an album sample. Codes on products like boilers to take an engineer to instructions or parts list or codes at a restaurant taking you to a digital menu?

These barcode tags can be used to connect the real world with the digital, and when applied in smart ways, can add value to the proposition. I’m sticking one on my CV I think, as well as looking how my clients can use them.

QR Code sample (should link to my website)

My QR-code

MS Tag sample (should also link to my website)

My MS-Tag