Monday, February 14, 2011

Beyond QR Codes

You may have started noticing more and more QR (Quick Response) codes popping up around you. Since I started talking about QR codes more than two years ago, the little squares have gone mainstream in the U.S. This trend is expected to continue as more people purchase smart phones with the ability to read the codes. Many printers are reporting that the topic of QR codes helps them get past the gatekeeper and get  in front of a different type of print buyer.

Now that you can recognize a QR code, you need start watching for the new AR codes. AR code or Augmented Reality code allows a viewer to see a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated sensory input such as sound or graphics. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.

If the AR code is viewed through a smart phone or computer-connected camera, the viewer sees something different. A business card becomes a three-dimensional object. A street can have an overlay of digital information over the scene that allows the user to find out more about what he is seeing. Characters and scenes can rise out of the pages of a children’s story book and dance across the pages. The possibilities are endless. has hundreds of visual examples of AR code applications. Just search for Augmented Reality. For some quick examples of iPhone applications for AR, visit You may even have seen the new Hallmark card television ads for their new AR cards.

AR codes aren't as common as QR codes, but printers should start learning how to create them. They require special software, but they could be another way to make a printer different from his competitors.

If you are a printer or designer and haven't exposed your customers to QR codes, you are doing them a disservice. Any business with an Internet presence needs to be linking the Internet world with the print world. QR codes are easy to create. Printers should also be linking their own web information to any printed material they use to promote the printing company.

If you want to be the printing known for his technological know-how, then make sure you are getting customers to use QR codes on their printed marketing material.