Having a Party on the QR

Walking down Brick Lane in London over the weekend, I saw this poster:

Between the Cracks party poster

It's advertising a "secret" party somewhere in the area. The location is given in a QR barcode, which is the seemingly random mosaic that covers most of the poster. As the instructions suggest, it's not meant to be read by eye, but with a mobile phone — just point your mobile at the poster and off you go.

Well, not exactly. First of all, you have to have the right phone. In Japan, the ability to read QR codes has been a standard feature on mobile phones for some time. But in Europe, few devices support the technology. For best results, it needs a camera that can focus on close objects and capture detail well. Nokia's barcode reader only works on its smartphones with 3.2-megapixel or better cameras. That's fewer than 10 phones in Nokia's total range of about 50.

If you don't have one of these phones, you can download a Java-based reader. However, some of them, such as MobileTag, only interpret Semacodes, a different type of barcode that's incompatible with QR codes. UPC's Upcode application reads both types of barcode, but only on Symbian phones. Kaywa's QR reader can only be downloaded after you've registered on the company's Web site. I've found most of these readers give patchy results, especially when used with low-resolution cameras.

I used my Nokia N95 to try reading the code on the Brick Lane poster, but gave up after a few minutes. The combination of bright sunshine, a slightly skewed poster and an overly complicated barcode was too much for the phone. In the end, I could only decipher the code by photographing it, enhancing it on a computer and rereading it. By which time the party was long over.

The barcode on the poster is much more complicated than it needs to be. Once decoded, it reveals 240 characters of text, most of which could be put on a Web page and accessed by following a link embedded in the barcode. The whole point of QR codes and Semacodes is to give quick access to information. Any phone with a barcode reader is likely to also have a Web browser and Internet access, so why the party organisers didn't just use the barcode to point people to a Web site is beyond me.

Mobile barcodes are potentially very useful. At CCS Insight, we've put them on the back of our business cards. But for QR codes and Semacodes to become widespread in Europe, they have to offer an advantage over traditional methods of conveying information. If they don't, I think they'll remain geeky toys.

This entry was posted on July 22nd, 2008 and is filed under Devices. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Posted By Robert Caunt On July 22nd, 2008

- 2008-07-22 at 12:50
I find semacodes easier to capture via a mobile than QR codes, but to each his own. I usually use one of various url shortening services, such as url.ie, to transform a complex URL into very few characters to make a QR code that is easy enough for most mobile phones to pick up.
- 2008-07-24 at 07:51
Semacodes certainly seem easier to process, but they're not understood in Japan. We considered both Semacodes and QR codes for our business cards and went with the latter in the end. A bigger problem is the lack of standards for the content of a code. You can, as the poster shows, fill them up with so much information they become meaningless. I'll write about our experiences with the cards in another post next week.
- 2010-06-25 at 12:32
This barcode works great using optiscan app for iPhone - even from the computers monitor ;o) In case you are interested.... The Party is at The Macbeth in Shoreditch on the 26 July
- 2010-06-25 at 15:50
Good to see the technology's moved on in two years. At this level of detail, I still think it's a waste of paper, though.
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
The #Krack attack that puts billions of devices at risk highlights a flaw in the creation of the Wi-Fi standard: https://t.co/3RbiAW7Th2
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
Congratulations @AnthonyVollmer. https://t.co/uBYiXwLAwF
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
Most memorable preso at Qualcomm 4G/5G event was @BT / @EE’s dancing MD (IT & Mobile), Fotis Karonis. Bullish goal… https://t.co/WT45rxO61S
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
#IoT This is interesting: Apple partnership with GE for Predix. https://t.co/gyCCtjGitR. But an SDK per IoT platfor… https://t.co/JMy3vALaIs
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
Samsung partnering with Google on ARCore makes sense. Samsung changing though - 3 yrs ago it would have sought to d… https://t.co/oKgDrjPQV0
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
5G subscriptions will reach 1 billion in 2023. Our new 5G forecast for the ambitiously long period of 2018-2025:… https://t.co/lykFFxl8Sr
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
Sorry to hear MobileIron's @bmainz has left. EMM is rapidly reshaping. Tough out there for a specialist, public firm https://t.co/tWiEj06djI
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
Spoilt for choice, what a line up; @ChampionsLeague goals show or #CHEROM live in #UHD #4K & #DolbyAtmos on BT Spor… https://t.co/5uqH3KbuGx
Follow Paolo
Kester Mann
Voda UK to launch novel PAYG concept. Spend limited to £1/day, but unlimited voice/SMS and 500MB of data thereafter. Aim to mitigate worry.
Follow Kester
George Jijiashvili
Hands on with the new Ricoh Theta V! 4K video is the highlight of the V - I'm hoping to see an improvement in the p… https://t.co/kd0vGEXHBd
Follow George
Laura Simeonova
RT @benwood: Big news from Samsung overnight. Despite strong profits CEO resigns. Cites concerns over future challenges. https://t.co/bqI1…
Follow Laura
Katie Taylor
RT @TheBMA: Two junior doctors were left looking after more than 400 patients during very unsafe shift at stretched hospital https://t.co/q…
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
The Wi-Fi Krack Security Vulnerability Highlights a Flaw in the Standard's C... Read more
Blog Post
Game On in Smartphone Market Will There Be Demand for Razer's Gaming Smartphone? Razer, ... Read more
Blog Post
Google Touts Gigabit LTE Advantage Aims to Enhance Android Experience on High-Tier Phones It's... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
CCS Insight Predicts 1 Billion Users of 5G by 2023, with More Than Half in China 5G to take off faster than any previous mobile technology ... Read more
More news