I carried out my first ever QR code download yesterday. And it was a totally underwhelming experience that bordered on the humiliating. Prior to this event I’ve suspected that QR codes are technology for the sake of technology. You know, the ‘why do it? Because we can’ scenario. I no longer suspect that. I KNOW that.
I’ve had a QR code app on my Droid for a while now, but never had a reason to use it (which maybe says something in itself). And then yesterday, while in the village store of all places, I saw it gleaming at me like a beacon among the bread, beer and frozen pizzas. It was a QR code advertising a pollen count app on a display of hayfever tablets. Being the sniffly type, it sounded good, so I whipped out my mobile and fired up the QR scanner. And that’s just about all I have to say that’s positive.
What followed was a farcical scene where I had to bend almost double to get my mobile close enough for the reader to pick up the code, and then squat there while I waived the phone back and forth over the code to try and get it recognised. And what made it worse was that I was standing in a queue of people at the time, each of whom had to scoot around me with a look of either disdain or disbelief to get to the till. The whole experience left me feeling grubby.
Now this may be an extreme example of a QR #fail, but I’ve heard similar stories from elsewhere: codes that don’t work or are inaccessible. QR is an idea in the same bracket as the Betamax, the mini disc and, can we now admit it, Google Buzz. It’s ill-conceived nonsense and should be consigned to the scrap heap as soon as possible. It should be hung, drawn and quartered, and then burned at the stake. While being eaten alive by starving boar. Slowly.
With this in mind, the news that posters in London avertising the new X-Men movie are utilising the QR code’s nemesis, NFC (near field communication), comes as something of a welcome development. NFC quite simply allows anyone with an NFC enabled mobile (spot the current stumbling block) to tap their device to a special chip to transfer information, in this case a film trailer and Facebook page prompt. Google has announced that it is to introduce an NFC payment system, for example. Imagine THAT with a QR code…
NFC is still a new and developing technology and clearly still has some way to go before it can be picked up in the mainstream. But the sooner, the better, so that we can forget that QR codes ever existed. As for my pollen count app, I’m very impressed: nice work, Piriton. Just a shame it’s tainted by my experiences of getting hold of it.
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