Wednesday, April 13, 2011

useful QR code tidbit

That collection of black and white boxes is known as a QR code. If you have phone that can run apps you can probably download a free QR code reader from whatever store you have. They contain data. Usually URLs, but they can also have text or phone numbers or whatever.

About a year and a half ago Bruce screwed up our brochures so badly that it was determined that we needed to develop a style sheet that spells out colors, fonts, spacing, and the like to make sure that there's something we can point at and say "THIS! RIGHT HERE! For the 19th time DO THIS!" I wanted to start putting QR codes on the brochure that would take the person to our website or to the specific website for the book mentioned on that page. But at that point they were still fairly new to the United States. Big in Japan, but less so here. Plus nobody in our office had a smart phone to demonstrate how it worked or figure the optimal size for the graphic. But I was still ready to show up at the meeting to discuss the brochure style with a strong case for the codes.

Then I called up for jury duty and vanished for six weeks. Without me in the meeting to defend the idea it was shelved.

One benefit of having my Droid is that I can now demonstrate how the codes work. I did this a couple of months ago at a staff meeting and the Colonel got very excited. She agreed that we should start putting them on our posters and on stand up displays at conventions and whatnot. Then she went to some convention where several of the vendors also had them. She came back super excited about them. We're gonna put them everywhere now. She's been collecting places that she's seen them used in ads, fliers, and business cards.

Then came questions about size. How big do they have to be? How small is too small? We ran some tests a few weeks ago to find out.

On something that the user will have right in front of them, like a business card or brochure, you can get as small as 1" x 1". Smaller than that and the camera on your phone will likely have trouble getting a sharp picture.

If the person has to stand further away you obviously have to make it bigger. Tests in the office indicate that you need to make the box about 1 inch in width for every foot away from the poster the camera will be. So 6 feet needs 6 inches. To be honest, that's like an upper limit. The camera was struggling at that limit. So 2 inches was good for 1.5 feet, 4" for 3.5', 6" for 5.5', etc.

Since writing this post a few weeks back we've used the codes on a table at a pediatric medicine conference. I helped several people install software on their phones so they could read them. We'll have to put something on the bottom of the signs that say something to the effect of "We recommend 'QR Reader' for iPhone users and 'Barcode Scanner' for Android users."


lacochran's evil twin said...

...but how does he smell?

Ibid said...

As long as he's kept far away from the microwave, just fine.
But he still doesn't understand that camouflage is not acceptable office wear even on a military base.