There’s been a bit of discussion lately about QR Codes, those blocky visual tags that try to make the real world machine-readable.
They’ve been with us for a while and, unlike NFC, most of us have had phones capable of using them for some time. But have you used QR codes more than once or twice in your life?
I certainly haven’t. Maybe in five years nostalgic 20-somethings will ask each other, “hey do you remember QR codes?”, and they will, but in the same way as my generation remembers laser discs or Global Hypercolour T-shirts: we knew they existed, but never really made them a part of our lives. There are too many points of failure:
Anyway, not everyone agrees with me about QR codes. Recently I came across this sign in an estate agent’s window on Upper Street, Islington:
Maybe they’re right, but I’m still not convinced.
It’s not that the fundamental idea is bad. Building bridges between the physical and virtual worlds makes sense, and hyperlinks or metadata embedded in real-world objects is an obvious way of doing that. But for the idea to succeed the execution has to be far more elegant than this.