Riddle me this…

Ponder this for awhile, and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

[UPDATE] Did I say tomorrow? I meant… tomorrow after tomorrow.

As Ryan [MB] commented, those with a cellphone should take a look at Kaywa QR code reader – QR code is what you see above. There are in fact a number of different code formats, including ones that look like a beehive of hexagons or a series of circles. However, if you’ve ever looked at the labels or packaging for various foods and other sundries, you’ll most likely see a code much like above – a seemingly random collection of black and white pixels. Even the smallest of them can contain a lot more information than a best before date, including URLs. Some can even contain an image (there’s your Gibsonian cyberpunk moment of the day – escort ads that can “show” without getting into trouble. Or, fine. Kittens and puppies. The picture is of rainbows and ducklings.)

There are a handful of decoders for the iPhone, all of them capable of decoding more than just the QR code format, but they tend to be a little finicky. Currently, I’m getting the best results with BeeTagg.

And even if you don’t have a phone, you can still have a lot of fun making and decoding online. Here; go to this link, and then put the following URL in (it’s the address for the image above.)


Cool, right?

It’s possible that we don’t need this, but at the same time, I can’t help but think the uses are vast… up to and including pictures of dolphins covered in glitter. And really, they won’t take hold until people start thinking up some of those uses and acting on them. Got any good ideas?

4 Comments so far

  1. ajpike on January 29th, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

    I’ve heard QR codes are popular in Japan for linking to URLs. Since URLs are in Roman-alphabet characters, they’re harder to remember for Japanese speakers. I’m sure ads would have QR codes for URLs in Canada if all addresses on the internet used only Japanese characters!

  2. castewar on January 29th, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

    That certainly makes sense, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be useful in Canada. A lot of URLs on posters are unwieldy or we forget them before we can use them. There is a lot of information out there that we don’t have the time, inclination or chance to jot down.

    There are lots of uses for them, it’s just a matter of hitting that sweet spot of awareness, tech access, and choosing appropriate uses.

  3. Ryan Cousineau (van_ryan) on January 31st, 2009 @ 5:43 pm

    Dang. My wife’s phone is the only one with a camera. For the rest of the world, you might want to suggest downloading the free Kaywa QR code Reader.

  4. castewar on February 1st, 2009 @ 12:38 am

    Good thought – I was pretty much of the same thinking, and then I got distracted at work Friday. The danger of saying you’ll follow-up at a specific time.

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