QR Codes

I remember this time last year, a few QR codes were bubbling on the surface. I wasn’t sure if it’s something that was going to to grow or fizzle out, but come this year and wow they’re popping up everywhere! Even the MI5 have used it for their recruitment ads in print.

I wrote about stickybits last year which works by scanning barcodes… similar to how QR codes work. Not sure what happened but I think QR codes have overtaken stickybits in populartity…perhaps because QR codes have been around for longer? Or am I just not aware of sitckybits activity this year. Last year, Contagious magazine have been plastering stickybits around Cannes which must have been great PR.

Having said that according to the stickybits website you can scan QR codes with the stickybits app. The idea with stickybits was that although useful, QR codes haven’t quite taken off in the west so it adopted the barcode instead – something that is already present worldwide and allowed anyone to tag information onto it. Go to the stickybits website to find out more.

QR codes have been widely adopted in the Japan and South Korea for a quite a few years now but not so much in the west. Three years ago, whilst I was holidaying in Japan it was common to see it – in fact a friend has scanned it on her phone to get a discount voucher at an all-you-can-eat cake buffet for her and myself. Well Japan’s been well ahead with with their technology and have been using smartphones longer than the west (way before the iPhone hit the market), so that probably has something to do it.

I wonder if the aesthetic also has anything to do with its popularity. The matrix pattern has some kind of nostalgic 80s pixel art feel to it doesn’t it. This is the latest cool use of QR I’ve come across on the Mashable website.

Yup it’s a tombstone with a QR code attached to it. Yoav Medan’s mother passed away in June and the Israel-based medical technology executive couldn’t decide what to write on her tombstone – so decided to attach a QR code that will link to a tribute website that holds stories and photos from his mother’s life. You can read more about the story here. And the comments are an interesting read too.

Doesn’t it look like something you see in a sci-fi movie of the 21st century? Or some kind of alien language? Or aztec or hieroglyphic? I’m not sure what his mother would think of it but I’m sure she would appreciate the thought behind it. The act of changing information in to something very compact for the future kind of reminds me the Voyager program. Phonograph records containing sounds and images that portray life on Earth were bundled onto the Voyager Spacecraft – for the extraterrestrial to find.

On to more case studies. How did they manage to find someone to get tattooed with a QR code???

As part of the Ballantine whiskey’s “Leave the Impression” campaign, Paris tattoo artist K.A.R.L tattoeed the very first animated tattoo.

Another cool QR use- QRadio online new QR art project by Berlin based artist SWEZA


Which is similar to Yuri Suzuki’s project Sound Graffiti.


Pretty clever huh?

Also, recently hotel chain Radisson Edwardian have been using QR codes in their social media campaigns.

They have added QR codes to their menus which send users to videos of dishes being prepared.

“The reason we used the QR codes on our menus was that we had a lot of video content – on our YouTube channel, promoted through Facebook and Twitter.

It was I Spy’s idea to take that experience offline and turn it into something useful for diners, as well as to appeal to people who haven’t been introduced to our social media channels.

It has been a useful tool for our waiters too, and they have been able to prompt people who chose the highlighted dish that they could see the video of it being prepared by our chefs.

We didn’t want to bombard every diner with it, though it was clearly promoted on the menu itself.”

Now a combination of QR codes and projection mapping!

RedLaser and Lupe Fiasco took over Union Square in NY to promote the release of Lupe Fiasco’s latest album Lasers. The projected QR code allowed fans to pre-order the album on the spot or purchase merchandise. The campaign was supported through Facebook and Twitter which drove fans to Union Square to show their support.


On the other side of the Pacific, the N Building  in Tokyo have been layered with a giant QR code that, when scanned on a smartphone it takes you to a designated Web site that displays up-to-date store information, complete with content, images and videos. You can also make reservation and download shop coupons. The app also interfaces with Twitter so tweets relating to the N building can be viewed as well. Believe it or not this was made 2 years ago!

I’m sure many more QR code related campaigns are coming up soon.

And with that I just had a go at creating a QR code for my portfolio (above) and my blog (below) myself. Cool!

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