The front facing cameras in the second generation of tablets such as iPad 2, Xoom, and Tab, will allow some users, who are resistant to smartphone web browser, to interact with mobile barcodes for the first time. The main commentary of QR code scanning has been around mobile user experiences (UX) – in particular that such experiences both add value through content and render that content appropriate for small screens. Tablets, like smartphones, will be able to interact with printed campaigns via QR codes but with a much larger screen. For web-enabled tablets, this presents an opportunity for the integration of print and web and opens a new modality for social discourse. In this way, one could argue that rather than antiquated printed media, tablets now enhance the value of printed communication by interacting with it rather than making it obsolete. The larger screen in essence allows QR codes to reach their full potential – to connect people to brands through a great (better) user experience.
Imagine scanning a QR code from a magazine, and receiving the article you were reading plus a side bar conveying live augmented comments and related marketing content. Another option that the entire user interface is only sidebar content where a user still reads the paper, but can view a twitter feed, related articles, or poll results on the tablet as a second surface. At a minimum, the use of enriched additional content could allow for interactive linkages and facebook sharing, but there are many user experiences that one could design to benefit readers, advertisers, and other stakeholders. Photo galleries, video content, multimedia, real time polling, and comments are just the beginning of how printed media could rethink content to work in spaces between print and the tablet screen. Future steps could include customizing ad content with geocentric data and utilizing 2d augmented reality (AR) markers to make certain elements 3d rendered.
In terms of adoption, the appeal of QR codes in providing contextual content on demand will still be as confusing and appealing to those who currently subscribe to each camp, but the larger screen size on the back end of this action is very relevant. The larger screen size makes things easier to see, but also makes people feel comfortable with consuming and interacting with information because the size of the tablet is similar to other objects they would hold and use. When people are more comfortable with a screen, they will consider using it more often and in greater depth. Deeper experiences allow for more time to interact with a brand, and for better graphic design- allowing for typography and layouts to become more user-friendly and dynamic to better communicate an ever changing media landscape. If this small amount of extra screen real estate entices the viewer to interact in ways they feel they cannot on a small smartphone, these same people will be more inclined to click on a mobile coupon, make a donation on the go, or view a video.
I predict that 2d barcode scanners will become the must have app for all tablet users, increasing the visibility of 2d barcodes in print media. But this forecast is reliant on print media embracing, not just dabbling in, QR codes and meeting the consumer at the point of opportunity.
Patrick Donnelly, President, QR Arts, Inc.
QrArts, Inc. is an integrated media consulting agency out of Washington D.C. that specializes in mobile user experience with respect to mobile tagging and 2d barcodes. They create brand engagement strategies that help move consumers from impressions to interactions and specialize in the design and implementation of QR code campaigns.