Friday, January 27, 2012

QR Codes – the discussion continues

I have blogged a few times recently on trails being undertaken with QR codes, see QR codes, RFIDs and Goggles,  Providing Rich Media Content, including a view that they are of limited value New Technologies in the Museum Sector.

That said it is early days, and there are a host of trials going on to help get at broader picture. Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology at the Brooklyn Museum, who is always worth reading as the Brooklyn has been a innovator from way back, writes in the Brooklyn Museum blog  that their latest findings from QR take-up has been indecisive, and one could read disappointing. All visitors are provided with entrance tags on the back of which is a QR code and an explanation of what visitors might find by scanning QR codes on objects into the Museum. Only 1.77% of visitors responded by scanning the code, and of those that did scan the code only an average 3.37% of those users (.059% of total visitors) scanned the codes that were placed on objects ( admittedly only placed on 30 objects out of the 3000 on display).

So my take on QR codes at present is as follows:

On the positive side, they provide at present the fastest way to a URL and the ability to share flexible information from a smartphone, but:
  • they need to be at least 30 x 30mm
  • they should always include details about how to download a QR code reader beside them
  • they should always identify which URL they send users too
  • museums should be prepared for a slow start and gradual uptake of interest
On the negative side;
  • you need a smartphone to read them, and although the growth in such is phenomenal ( 90% take-up by 2015 predicted), a significant proportion of visitors still don’t have them and are therefore disenfranchised by this method of content delivery
  • they are a hassle to use in terms of first of all downloading the QR reader and then aligning the QR code on the phone camera, scanning the image and waiting for the upload
For my money, it is the dual technologies of visual recognition and location awareness that we should be watching most closely in terms of their capacity to deliver content. They both appear to be developing far faster than QR code technology, of which more soon.

Julian Bickersteth
Managing Director

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