QR Codes: Ugly, Overused and Doomed
from the scan-this-banana dept
I've never understood the hype about QR codes. They appeared one day, and then suddenly every advertiser made them a priority, plastering them all over everything in print. It has always seemed like undue obsession with something that, ultimately, is not that useful to very many people -- and that's assuming most people even know what they are. I was pleased to discover that I'm not the only one: the Guardian has set up a Tumblr called WTF QR CODES to catalog the many bizarre and inappropriate uses of the technology:
Most people look at a QR code and see "robot barf", but marketers seem to think they are a must-have technology for their advertising campaigns. In their minds, eager consumers wander around with their smartphones, scanning square codes wherever they appear. As a result, the codes appear just about everywhere, and often in some really absurd places.
The examples range from the fairly mundane (QR codes in the subway, where there is no data reception and where they are often located on the inaccessible side of the tracks) to the completely outlandish and even dangerous (huge QR codes towed behind airplanes, or printed on highway-side billboards).
There's one thing the article doesn't mention that I think is an important point: even if QR codes were popular, they would be a doomed transitional technology no matter how you slice it. Image recognition technology has been progressing rapidly and is already being used in products like Google Goggles, which means visual machine languages are going to be unnecessary. The tech isn't perfect yet, but it's already at the point that smartphones are capable of recognizing ads based on color, configuration and other indicators. As visual search becomes more common, consumers are going to get used to the idea that they can snap a photo of anything and find related information online—and the QR code will be officially obsolete (at least as a marketing tool).