Wednesday, September 14, 2011

QR codes can be useful and fun apparently

QR codes can be fun and useful. Allegedly. Ok, I admit it, I’m a complete sceptic when it comes to QR codes and their implementation – especially in marketing. I’m yet to be convinced that they’re the next big thing and I’ve written about the basic usability issues with them several times here and here. But there are indeed the odd use case that I think is relevant, useful or entertaining. And I can think of two right now in the UK – QRpedia and the QR Treasure Hunt in Brighton.

1. QRpedia

Mobile Monday London regular, Terence Eden, demonstrated QRpedia at one of our demo nights and it was very warmly received. Simply put, it’s a way of adding more information about a museum exhibit in multiple languages viewed on your phone or other mobile device. This is done by creating a QR code for each exhibit and linking it to its relevant Wikipedia entry. And because the system knows which country your phone is from, it shows you the article in the correct language – be that Korean, Spanish or Arabic. You can see Terence showcasing this in the video below filmed at the event.

The reason I like this implementation is because it engages people. You can engage with the local museum’s fans and volunteers and have them come in on an open day or an open evening and get them to create all the QR codes for their favourite exhibits. You can engage the local Wikipedia fans who can write about things that weren’t previously written about – thus expanding Wikipedia at the same time. It means you can have multi-lingual content that’s easy to access for your visitors and it can be free too if it’s on wifi. And providing wifi could be a great opportunity for a sponsor to get involved in a practical way with a museum so that everyone benefits. I think this could also be developed to help the visitor keep track of their favourite exhibits – it’s very easy to forget everything you’ve seen, especially when faced with huge museums like The V&A or The Natural History Museum. This has already been trialled successfully at Derby Museum and Terence has shared some of what he learned there.

2. The QR Treasure Hunt in Brighton

Now this seems to me to be a bright idea, and a lot of fun to boot. So if you fancy it, you can head down to Brighton on Saturday 24 September and snap QR codes around the town for a chance to win prizes whilst exploring and learning about the area. You can read about the background to the event here and here. Tickets are just £5 with all proceeds going to the Rockinghorse charity and you can buy them here.

I really like the idea of a treasure hunt. Back in my ZagMe days we organised SMS treasure hunts around Lakeside Shopping Mall and they were a lot of fun and got people to areas of the centre they may not have been familiar with before. I can see a combination of SMS, twitter clues and QR codes achieving the same ends. Hey, maybe you should throw in a bit of NFC while we’re at it!