What’s Next After QR Codes?

See new article, How to Make QR Codes Work in Advertising

Whilst QR codes haven’t exactly been a roaring success, other technologies are appearing that take the basic concept but add more engagement and interactivity. Essentially this is the next iteration of image recognition. Last year, technology company Kooaba showed of their app, which works on the basis of taking a picture, leading to more information. The obvious applications are in brand marketing and the company is focussed to these needs, including an API to integrate into their app. Last month, Royal Mail (yes, the people that occasionally deliver the post in the UK) showed off their Digital Watermarking scheme. Working with technology company Digital Space, they have created an iphone and Android app which provides enhanced information to users who hold their phone over an relevant image. Royal Mail’s interest in this technology is to offer a more exciting, engaging experience from direct mail.

The newest trend on the image recognition front is to combine it with augmented reality (AR). So far, AR on mobile has largely used location to overlay the image with additional information. With Image Recognition AR, you hold your camera over a picture and stuff happens in a virtual environment. Blippar, which was announced this week, showed off this technology in their video (below). They even got their app onto the UK TV news (no name check though) which is good going. They are calling it ‘Image Recognition Advertising’ which Blippar claim that this will make QR codes redundant. This seems to be a strange analogy. QR isn’t exactly universally understood in the way that apps, for example, have become. AR Image recognition actually offers much more than that, by providing a rich and interactive content.

Of course, as with any new technology the bit ‘if’ is that of consumer adoption. Will anyone actually use it? Mobile always works best when it taps into existing behaviours. We want to communicate, we want to play games, we want to shop, we want tools for an easier life. All these needs existed before the mobile phone, and technologies from SMS, to apps or the mobile web simply tap into this. Will the new image recognition apps meet those needs or will it be another technology that brands and marketers love, but most consumers just don’t get?

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