Those peculiar little QR Codes…

Do you remember when QR Codes came into your life? I’m not sure when it happened.  All I know is that now they are everywhere.  We’ve got one (above) on our London Underground poster for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, I spotted two codes in the Evening Standard last night, and as I poured my cereal this morning – yep, there it was, a code on the back of the Cheerios packet.

Technology has a way of creeping into our lives so seemlessly we don’t notice the transition. We’ve gone from “what is that weird-looking thing on this package?” to “hang on, where’s the QR Code on this product?” without (metaphorically speaking) blinking.

Like me, you may have never thought about the QR Code and how it came into being. But Wikipedia informed me this morning that ‘the QR code was invented by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process’. So there you have it. Formerly only used for industrial purpose, the codes moved into commercial and consumer use with the arrival and dissemination of smartphones.

Like with all ‘new technology’, it spreads fast as everyone feels they must adopt the new medium in some way to show they are moving with the times. However, regardless of whether it’s used in a special or original way or not, the QR Code undoubtedly has opened up fascinating possibilities to give any product its own media extension, and to the consumer immediate access to relevant material pertaining to that product.  I was, in fact, quite taken with the news of Oxfam’s recent initiative, a free Shelflife app, which allows donors to ‘tag’ a QR code to an item they are giving to Oxfam and share a story behind that item. The next browser can scan this code and discover its past.

A nice idea… who knows what interesting story a second-hand product might have? Although, like with all things, it doesn’t always work. I saw one book merely tagged with the comment: ‘This is a book I read’ (cheers mate). It can also backfire – apparently one sweater was tagged with the story that the girl it belonged to had been dumped by her boyfriend when she was wearing it. (Any superstitious soul might quickly put that back on the rack again…)

Anyway, have there been any QR Code initiatives that you loved the most?

Chiara Priorelli, Publicity & Online Marketing Manager

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