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QR Codes in Space and Place

QR Codes in Space and Place

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Published by Jim Barrett
This is a short introduction and summary of how QR-codes can provide access to a layer of digital space in daily life. The creation of place is suggested by the use of QR-codes, with information attached to objects and spaces; activating spaces as rich environments users can experience.
This is a short introduction and summary of how QR-codes can provide access to a layer of digital space in daily life. The creation of place is suggested by the use of QR-codes, with information attached to objects and spaces; activating spaces as rich environments users can experience.

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Published by: Jim Barrett on Sep 13, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 QR Codes in Space and Place
A QR (Quick Response) code is a two-dimensional visual structure (see above) that can beregistered with a digital camera in a portable device. Most typically, these devices would besmartphones and tablet computers such as the iPhone, iPad, the Samsung Galaxy or theBlackberry PlayBook. QR codes can be directly linked to the increasing popularity of thesedevices – sales of smartphones and tablets already exceeded sales of PCs in 2011 and tabletsales
are projected to equal PC sales by 2015.
This renders the mobile camera (afeature of the smartphone and the tablet computer) increasingly important. The purpose indeveloping the use of QR codes is to leverage this projected increased use of the digitalmobile camera. Of course, these mobile cameras will still be used to take photos and videos of users and friends at parties, rallies, on holidays etc, but the opportunities to access digitalmedia via the mobile camera (including but not just with QR codes) can enhance business, public spaces, museum exhibition and cultural organization.There are many advantages to using QR codes. They are free of licenses.
They are clearlydefined and published as an ISO standard. Their use is also becoming increasingly popular. Astudy that suggests that, during the month of June 2011, 14 million mobile users in the UnitedStates scanned a QR code or a barcode. Some 58% of those users scanned a QR or bar codefrom their home, while 39% scanned from retail stores.
All train tickets issued by theChinese rail authority have featured QR codes since 2009; they now also feature on Eurostar train tickets.
We analyse the advantages of QR codes in the following ways:(1)
To utilize digital space;(2)
To leverage existing media; and(3)
To be a design object.(1)
Utilization of digital spacePhysical space, particularly in crowded urban areas, is limited. There is, for example, only somuch wall space to place advertisements. Physical spaces can be, of course, expanded withtechnology, such as sliding billboards (where multiple advertisements can slide one over theother to be screened in a single wall space). But constraints still apply (there is only so muchwall space to place sliding billboards, they can only contain so much information etc).Space is multi-dimensional, and digital space is one such dimension (along with, for example,cyberspace, media space etc). For the purposes of QR codes, we see this digital space as being
mobile screen space
– ie space in the screen of a user’s mobile device. This space, in turn,gives us numerous affordances to display, present and exhibit digital content, content whichwe propose can enhance a business or extend the use of a public space.How is this content provided by the QR code? It is as if the QR-code is a very smart switch.While the code itself does not hold much information, it contains characters, which provideinstructions for downloading, uploading, linking, streaming, updating, GIS positioning, andrunning programs. Whereas a linear bar code may accommodate 128 characters, a 2D QR code can comprise of as many as 7,089 characters and can be as large as 177 by 177, allowingfor 31,329 dots. That is enough space for about 3KB, even allowing for position, alignment,timing, version, and formatting information,
which is enough to provide instructions to pullup most digital content; script downloading and streaming, open to content, communicate between devices and allow for input of content from users.
1 page -> 70 characters per line x 40 lines per page (you must include spaces and marks) 2800 characters (bytesper page) -> 2.8 KB ~ 3 KB per page. A book with 500 pages -> 3KB x 500 = 1500KB = 1.5 MB
What this achieves is
easy access to a digital space with potentially limitless amount of content 
. As one company working with QR codes states on their website:You are not limited in terms of length, size and space. Traditional advertisingworks on limits. You pay for additional airtime, additional advertising space,additional newspaper columns. But fixing a QR code to your advertisement, you areliterally limitless in the amount of information you can include in your ad.The first point here is the fact of digital space. You are no longer confined to your x by ysquare metre of wall space. Think of all the content that can be created with the affordances of digital media – interactivity, space, games, immersion, augmentation, social networking etc.The second point is the ease of access. That one can create digital space with so muchadditional content is one thing, but with QR codes (and digital cameras), that space (and whatit contains) becomes mobile, becomes empowering, becomes free of physical constraints (of space etc). Screen world merges with real world. QR codes are thus strategic and efficientways of harnessing that mobility, utilizing that space.(2)
Leveraging of existing mediaThe idea is synergy. Digital media today is an ecosystem – different media forms feed, work off and translate from each other. QR codes play a role in this as well, but it is more as aconduit, a linking agent, than a media form. QR codes synapse between digital, print, virtualand cyber spaces, effectively expanding multimedia and cross-platform content:
QR codes can be scanned from a variety of surfaces, such as low-resolution computer screens, online videos (including YouTube), stickers and printed paper, allowing for links between on and offline content.
They can be customized to send messages, offers or otherwise unavailable multimediacontent.
They can make physical information rich. For example, Teradadesign and Qosmo’s NBuilding in Dubai and the N Building near Tachikawa station in Tokyo both havefacades that are QR codes, allowing users to “read” the respective buildings byaccessing GIS-positioned Twitter entries from customers, make reservations in therestaurants in it, gain information about the activities in the buildings and download

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