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


Comments
- 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.
Rob
- 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.
hobnob
- 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
Smart footwear has yet to gain broad appeal, but we expect this #wearables segment to continue to show steady growth https://t.co/qAprwZR9A3
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
RT @SteveRattner: Amazing: 1990: top 3 automakers: Revenues: $250B Employees: 1.2M 2014: top 3 Silicon Valley co’s: Revenues: $250B E…
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
RT @nickmcquire: SoftBank invests $100m in @cybereason. Big
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
@Intel going in big with Olympic sponsorship, as a showcase for lots of core future technologies.… https://t.co/XWX8Ygo5Cv
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
RT @SteveRattner: Amazing: 1990: top 3 automakers: Revenues: $250B Employees: 1.2M 2014: top 3 Silicon Valley co’s: Revenues: $250B E…
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
@Herring1967 You are not alone :)
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
SoftBank invests $100m in @cybereason. Big
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
Another telco partner for #Netflix. Interesting approach taken by @WindTreOfficial, bundled package incl Google Chr… https://t.co/NapQQLXC4o
Follow Paolo
Kester Mann
Veon is breaking new ground with a radical new strategy. What are its chances to succeed? Full analysis in CCS Insi… https://t.co/Tith3Ul9VZ
Follow Kester
George Jijiashvili
Connected footwear is seeing a comeback after several failed attempts to introduce them to mainstream [… https://t.co/0JpjX7Cc2h
Follow George
Katie Taylor
RT @GdnPolitics: Whether you are calling it #BattleForNumber10 or #mayvcorbyn, don't forget to play along at home https://t.co/Aj4SG7lkaS h…
Follow Katie
Tony Worthington
@MassiveAttackUK I did my university dissertation on this when we had, ahem, floppy disks. Happy to send a copy. Good read.
Follow Tony

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
The Resurgence of Smart Footwear New Generation of Connected Shoes Will Boost Demand In the ... Read more
Blog Post
Did Sprint Borrow a Page from Jio's Playbook? Offer of Free LTE Looks Familiar Through a low-key marketin... Read more
Blog Post
Is AR Coming of Age or Still Just a Promise? Industry Cooperation Will Be Crucial to Success AR has been... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
Sales of 5G Smartphones to Hit 100 Million in 2021 Over 10 billion mobile phones to be shipped in the next five... Read more
More news