Shining a Light on QR Codes

The article below was found on Gizmodo, and I wonder how serious the author, Chris Mills, was in writing it. See my comments in bold throughout.

This Clever Design Could Replace Ugly QR Codes With Light
Chris Mills
November 17, 2014
Gizmodo

QR codes are certainly practical, but they’re also dumb and stupid and ugly and instantly ruin almost anything they’re placed on. That’s why this tech that uses simple light as a replacement for QR codes is so awesome.

MoM: Mr. Mills, how can something be practical, but also dumb, stupid (isn’t that redundant?) and ugly at the same time? I’ve seen plenty of advertisements with QR Codes and the code hardly ruins the advertisement, especially when it is a designer or custom code. Mr. Mills, have you ever seen one of those? Perhaps not.

The idea comes from Fujistu, and it’s pretty darn simple: replace QR codes with a LED light bulb. The bulb is pointed at whatever object you want to be recognized by a smartphone, and the bulb fluctuates between emitting red and blue light at high speeds — so it appears to just be white light to human eyes, but spells out a binary message for the smartphone pointed at it. The system can even be calibrated for any change caused by the object it’s pointed at.

Mom: While the “tech” might be so simple and awesome, I fail to see how it can be implemented in a practical and cost-efficient manner. If I’m an advertiser wanting to use the technology for an ad printed in a magazine, like a QR Code would be or could be, how does the LED light technology work? As far as I can tell, it can’t or doesn’t. If I’m a restaurant owner, for example, and I want to use the LED light technology in conjunction with table menus, instead of QR Codes, how does it work in that scenario? By whom, how and where is the LED light to be controlled, maintained, etc.?

Not only does that mean no more ugly QR codes defacing subway posters, but in theory, it also means the link that the QR code sends your phone to can be changed easily. That would make the system far more useful than those stupid QR codes. Did I mention how great it would be if we could kill those off?

Mom: Mr. Mills, let me see if I understand you correctly. In the subway, there will be one of these LED lights shining on each and every advertisement that would have had a QR Code. If that’s the case then am I also correct in understanding that the MTA, the company that runs the New York City subway, for example, would need to worry themselves about hooking up LED lights whenever and where ever an advertiser wants to place an advertisement using this technology? If that’s the case then I would say that your idea is the most ridiculous I’ve ever heard. Do you really believe the MTA would want to get involved with this, let alone the brand itself? Surely you have not thought this one through.

Mr. Mills, if you knew anything about QR Codes, you would know that the scan resolve content can be changed on the fly, so a code need not be as static as you think or claim. To the contrary, QR Codes can be quite dynamic in what they link to.

Mr. Mills, here’s a thought….if you are so anti-QR Code, why don’t you simply learn about, support and talk about digital watermark technology? It removes the ugliness of QR Codes that you find so offensive, but also allows the same with respect to functionality (i.e., transporting a consumer from the print world to the digital world).

Mr. Mills, I can’t wait to read your next in-depth story. It should prove insightful and illuminating (no pun intended). Thank you.

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One thought on “Shining a Light on QR Codes

  1. FYI, your hyperlink jumps to a 2012 article that criticizes QR codes by a different author.

    As for Chris Mills, what he posted wasn’t an article. More like a teaser laced with his obvious distaste for QR codes. If you click the link at the bottom, it takes you to a slightly longer, more professional Gizmodo post about Fujitsu’s technology.

    If you continue following, you can see they simply swiped the info and one of the graphics from a Fujitsu press release.

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