Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Heinenken Meets QR Code (Taiwan)

Heinenken's official Taiwanese website now sports QR Codes for its marketing events. The QR Codes are of vCard format (LBS specification as defined in OMIA Barcode Standard 3.2) and contain geo-coordinates. This is quite useful for users that get lazy or sloppy in jotting down destination addresses. For instance, one can use QuickMark to scan the barcode, and either choose to save the information or fire up a navigation client (e.g. Google Maps Mobile or Garmin Mobile XT) to display the destination on a mobile map. Screenshots below:

Monday, October 6, 2008

QR On Book Backcover Gives Extra Info

A QR Code is spotted on the back cover of a new book titled Buying Good Products by Alice Ju (link). The book is about how to pick/buy healthy food products. The QR Code is a link to a webpage that contains a short video by the author sharing more information on the topic.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More Photos of QR Codes on Rice Packaging

A couple more photos of QR Codes spotted on food products:

Also noticed is that some 2D barcodes seem to be damaged to the point that recognition is no longer possible.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

QR Code Ad (A Poor Example)

Yet another full page newspaper ad (from last month actually, 6/15/08 on United Daily News) from GigaHouse that uses QR Codes for real estate advertisements. This time, there are a whopping 64 QR Codes to be found on the page. However the barcodes' usability has not yet been improved, they are still dense and consist of small module size (due to the long URLs that they encode). End users equipped with auto-focus camera phones such as the HTC Touch Diamond or Asus P750 might have a chance of decoding those barcdoes, but even then they will be disappointed because the target website are mostly not configured properly for mobile phones This is probably one of the most frustating things a QR Code can do to an eager user because it means that one could have potentially wasted their time & effort (in scanning the code), and money (for mobile data rates) on a completely useless piece of information. It is probably still a learning process for advertisers wanting to incorporate 2D barcodes into their marketing materials because they might be unfamiliar with the technology's limitations and capabilities. Personally, I think that 64 barcodes on a page is a little too much. I think that mobile barcodes work best when used sparingly, because it is easier to catch the reader's eyes and prompt actions based on their curiousity. 64 barcodes? Might be a bit too scary for some people.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Buy Tickets With QR Codes

Tickets for Air Supply's concert in Taiwan a couple of weeks ago could be purchased via 2D barcodes on their event posters (the photo depicts one poster spotted in the MRT station). The tickets were sold by the largest online tickets vendor ERA. Users need to be ERA members and download the QuickMark barcode reader to participate. Users that purchased tickets via this new method (scanning the QR Code) were treated to price discounts and better seats. Personally, I wish this offer was available for Namie Amuro's concert back in April or for more artists that are popular among a younger audience :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

QR Code Marketing

QR Code mobile marketing materials from last year (2007). It was a 7 month trial run by a Taiwanese marketing company to distribute these booklets (free) loaded with advertising using QR Codes.

Posted by PicasaAfter the end of the trial, they merged their efforts into a different booklet that is distributed for free at various convenience stores in Taiwan.

Monday, April 21, 2008

QuickMark 2D Barcode Reader for iPhone

QuickMark's 2D barcode reader appears to be working on the iPhone. The short video shows the QuickMark software successfully decoding a QR Code containing a UTF-8 encoded Chinese string. No download is available yet, but we are not supposed to be able to do that on an iPhone anyway (at least not officially).

So far the iPhone is still a supposedly proprietary platform, although several developers have already been able to create applications for jail broken iPhones.

Such actions are probably frowned upon by Apple, so they started a iPhone Developer Program and plans to launch its App Store platform later this year to set things straight (and make more money). But it remains to be seen how many 3rd party applications will be available when the Store goes live and when iPhones start to come with version 2.0 firmware.

In terms of barcode reader applications for iPhone, iMatrix is quite active and is looking to add support for a variety of proprietary barcodes. Google's ZXing project has iPhone on its road map and Neomedia has also released a couple of screenshots.

Although the iPhone has plenty of barcode reader support, it is not equipped with a great camera for reading barcodes. From my brief experience with the iPhone, barcodes will probably need a module size of at least 0.8 mm to have a chance of being recognized by the iPhone (in Japan, QR Codes are sometimes printed with 0.25 mm module sizes).

Update: QuickMark for iPhone is now available on iTunes App Store at: http://tinyurl.com/c3obf5

Sunday, April 6, 2008

QR Codes For Hua-Lien Organic Products

User scans an official QR Code label issued by the Council of Agriculture

Not only are QR Codes for food traceability promoted by at the national level in Taiwan, I also recently noticed that it is being implemented at a more regional/local level as well. The Hua-Lien Shien Bureau of Agriculture also have their own system for certifying organic agriculture products from Hua-Lien using QR Codes.

QR Code label by Hua-Lien Shien Bureau of Agriculture

The Hua-Lien Shien stickers are noticeably larger and seems to have more information, even including a photo of the producer. However, scanning the QR Code takes you to a web page with pretty much the same information (link). Therefore the enlarged label is probably taking into consideration that most people are still not equipped with mobile barcode readers.

If you are into organic products, Hua-Lien Shien has setup an online shop for these products, check it out.

Related links (Chinese): Taiwanese farmers with cutting edge technology, Technology and tradition

Student Vlog Explains 2D Barcodes

A video by Ming Chuan University students (most likely as an assignment) explaining the benefits of 2D barcodes as opposed to the traditional 1D barcodes. Part of the video was taken during a computer expo in May 2007, featuring QuickMark and 2D barcodes that integrate with map softwares to provide GPS navigational services. The video demonstrates those features using the ETEN glofiish, but they are actually available for all QuickMark supported Windows Mobile devices (version 3.3 and above). To use the navigational functions, one needs to either have PaPaGo! (Taiwanese map software) or Garmin Mobile XT installed.

The i'm TV website that hosts the vlog is also catering to the mobile users and has a page explaining how to use QR Codes for quicker access to their contents.

Looking For A House? Scan A QR

A full page newspaper ad featuring several QR Codes by GigaHouse (a real estate company in Taiwan) was spotted at the end of last year. The ad announced that the real estate company is working with operators to provide mobile search services for real estate items and placed a QR Code for each of their featured items. And apparently, their agents will be printing contact info 2D barcodes on their business cards as well.

The contents of the barcodes are web links that take users to a mobile web page with some additional information regarding the item. The unfortunate thing is that once again, the 2D barcodes are printed with a rather small module size that is not easily recognizable by the average camera phone.

More related links: GigaHouse on emome, GigaHouse with Taiwan Mobile

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Random Useless Observations About ZXing

Just noticed how similar the logo of Google's ZXing project is to the logo of Sourforge's Zebra Barcode Reader. I think both are cool logo ideas. If somebody is trying to come up with a logo for a similar project in the future, I would suggest trying animals such as the cheetah, leopard, or giraffe (I think they all have dots), it should be a lot of fun.

The other random observation is that I spotted a link to the ZXing project in the Google's Sponsored Links area while performing searchs for the phrases "2D barcode reader" and "1D barcode reader". I am not sure what Google's algorithm is for displaying those links, perhaps my personal search history is part of the equation or maybe they do this for every Google project? But if I am not mistaken, companies pay Google on a per click basis for those ads. So I guess it at least shows that they are very supportive of their own projects.

Billboard Promotes QR Food Traceability

The billboard pictured above was spotted last month at the Nan-Jing East Road Station of Taipei's Metro Rapid Transport. The purpose of the QR Codes are for food traceability, as mentioned in an earlier post. The sole entrance/exit of this station is just to the left of the billboard, so it is in a perfect spot to attract eyeballs. Unfortunately, due to the limited space, the billboard only tells the viewer that there is a new certification label for agricultural products. Meaning that those foreign to 2D barcodes will still not understand what those squarely dots stand for. Nonetheless, more people are paying attention to this and I also found the following video from the Taiwan Public Television about the importance of food traceability:

(Link to the article accompanying the video)

QR-Kill Game

Just read about the QR-Kill game and it really sounds like fun! I think I would enjoy running around chasing people with my QuickMark decoder.

The basic rules are as follows:
1. A QR with your name and phone (SMS format) will be printed in a 20cm minimum width sheet of white paper. It will be reinforced by a hard cardboard and stuck to the back using american tape.

2. The QR must be visible at all times. It cannot be covered by any means, wall, floor, etc…

3. Once you receive the deathly SMS you must leave the scenario right away.

4. When team playing, members can only communicate by using same phone they use as a weapon.

5. Disguising is allowed as along as the QR is visible.

6. Unless playing “sniper mode” no extra devices can be used to capture the QR-Codes (E.g. zoom photo cameras, videocams, etc…)

7. If there is a conflict deciding who killed first, SMS time will decide (we recommend synchronizing watches before the game starts)

8. No one can assist you to kill the enemy with your phone. However you can hire spies, etc…