QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?

Lina’s business card QR code

The révolution tranquille (Quiet Revolution) was the 1960s period of intense change in the province of Québec.  It was characterized by the rapid secularization of society, the creation of a welfare state (État-providence) and a re-alignment of politics. These changes ultimately shaped a distinct, strong and flourishing National Identity.  In the digital and social world, will QR codes have their own digital “Quiet Revolution” or will they fade into oblivion because they lack purpose, identity and a sense of belonging?Not just another passing fad, QR codes and the results of their ensuing “Quiet Revolution” are paving a new road to a digital and social world.  QR codes are creating a bridge between the physical world we live in and the ever evolving digital social world.

What’s a QR code and why should you care? (video)  Before we look at some of the burgeoning uses of QR codes, let’s quickly review QR code basics.

A QR (Quick Response) code is a two dimensional bar code originally designed for the automotive industry.  QR codes allow its contents to be decoded at high speed providing you have a QR code reader installed on your mobile phone.  Whether it’s in traditional media placements such as magazines or billboards, when you see a QR code, you can simply take a picture of it with your phone’s camera and you’ll be directed to the embedded information of that code.  The programmed destination could be a website, video, text message or telephone number.

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QR codes are easy to create (using a QR generator application) and then embed into the physical world.  With a minimal cost to entry, the possibilities for uses abound. 

Here are 10 QR code applications:

1)     Government agency forms and communications now often come with QR codes.  Scanning them allows the user to quickly be directed to the relevant web location specific to the subject form or letter.

2)     With a QR Code, real estate signs and flyers advertising a market listing provide quick online access to property and agent information.  Change in price, availability or terms, no need to reprint the flyers, simply update the information on the web site.

3)     Before digital books completely overtake hard copy books, there is the case for enabling the transition from print to digital.  Prolific blogger, social media expert and author Michelle Blanc does a wonderful job of that in her French social media books (aptly called social media 101 and 102) by including QR codes and easy to reference shortened URL footnotes throughout the text.  Check out the QR code on the cover of her most recent book.

4)     Recently, I was a guest at Google’s main Mountain View campus.  After enjoying a wonderful lunch in the legendary Googleplex café, my host and I made our way to a meeting room.  Every meeting room door on the Google campus has a QR code that provides all the specifications (size, equipment) and scheduling information specific for that room.  Use your phone and reserve the room on the fly – no need to fire up that bulky pc and search for the logistics pages.

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5)     Stand out from the crowd.  Should your resume have a QR code?  You can read a great blog post on the subject.  As the author suggests, maybe you shouldn’t include a QR code in your resume but I would argue that your business cards should include one.  The code should point to your digital business profile.  You could program it to lead to your public LinkedIn profile.  I recently designed a set of 2 sided custom business cards that include a QR code as well as Lina specific images.  I learned about MOO cards from a trusted social network connection.  Talk about giving a classic calling card a digital make-over!

6)     Need stocking stuffer ideas?  Along the same lines as the MOO QR business card, you can design your own QR code stickers to put on your digital treasures (telephone, laptop, etc.) or get some personalized luggage tags with a QR code image.  Make yourself and your love ones (people and things) easy to find.

7)     Thinking of updating your estate plan?  It can now include provisions for a digital epitaph tribute grave marker.  The inscription on the grave stone includes a QR code leading to a viewable memorial tribute page that tells your life story.  A trip to the cemetery might actually come to life!

In the following tweet, Jeff Bullas references a post by Mark Schaefer who in turn introduces a brilliant SharePoint presentation by Gregory Pouy:  The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns.

@jeffbullas: The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns http://t.co/HouREJLF via @markwschaefer

Want to learn about boundless and creative possibilities, this material is a must read/view.  Specific to QR codes, check out the 2nd and 3rd case studies featured in Gregory’s material.

8)     2nd video case study |The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns – by Gregory Pouy:  Tesco (Home Plus)View the video on slide 15 of 61.  Through the creative use of QR codes in subway stations, Korean supermarket chain Home Plus allows shoppers to do their shopping without ever visiting an actual store.

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9)     3rd video case study “The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns – by Gregory Pouy”:  NY Central Park comes to digital life via a museum in the park experience featuring Park codes.  View the video on slide 22 of 61.

Let’s have a riddle to close off this QR list.  What do you get when you cross a QR code with an OREO cookie? 

10)  Answer:  a QREO of course!  Admittedly, it’s not the most practical application of QR technology but it can certainly be characterized as innovative and wittyQR + OREO = QREO comes by way of All TOP and Guy Kawasaki @GuyKawasaki.

Far from being “quite redundant” given ever increasing smartphone numbers, QR codes are far from being another passing fad.  Rather, they represent the humble beginnings of a “Quiet Revolution” journey on the way to a connected and social world.  NFC and location based services, bring it on!

What QR codes have you noticed and quietly tried out?

2 thoughts on “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?

  1. Our local public libraries enable you to convert your barcoded library card into a QR code on your phone. One less card in my wallet or on my keychain, and I never have to wonder whether I left it at home.

  2. Often the initial resistance to using QR codes is that few (especially in the US) know what they are or how to use them. That’s somewhat easily bypassed by also including a text code people can use to get to the same content. It’s all about experimenting and trying new things (especially since they’re inexpensive to create). I have seen some QR codes that send people to a web page that was not optimized for mobile – so don’t make that mistake.

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