Our founder and friend, Will Phillips, provided the following in an email to his health club roundtable members this week. It holds for our museum colleagues, too, so I've redrafted slightly and reposted.
A QR code is a specific matrix barcode readable by dedicated QR readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL, or other data.
Common in Japan, created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. QR, abbreviated from Quick Response, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed. QR codes can hold over 7,000 characters, providing a rich data delivery.
Natali Del Conte of CNET explains QR codes in a short video. Google encourages the use of QR codes in their Favorite Places campaign by asking business to show QR codes in their windows and advertisements, leading to rich data resource. Google's Android also moved QR adoption in the US. Since the Android market is small screen only, it is common for users to scan the QR code from a web page or another phone's screen or a print ad as Del Conte explains. QR codes can link to your electronic calendar, website, videos, coupons, promotions, and invitations.
Would QR codes on an object label in a museum usefully extend the information available to the visitor? Could discounts be offered on the museum website encourage visitation during slow times? Since interest is just building, would some visitors be attracted to this now "secret" way of gaining access? Since we all carry our phones 27/7, mobile marketing is apparently the next wave.
p.s from Mary Case: I’ve downloaded the recommended iPhone app, Neoreader, but so far haven’t had success in decoding anything. Onward!