I Are Geek

Playing with Smartphone QR Codes

With the advent of the Smartphone there has, inevitably been an explosion of applications that can read the barcodes that you find on the packaging for almost any product that is on sale. Fantastic, but a limited and nerdy use for the individual unless you collect barcode details or want to check the online price for the Chicken Tikka Masala jar that you just emptied into the saucepan.

Well mucking around on the ‘nets the other day I came across a slightly different implementation of the barcode. It’s called a QR or Quick Reference code. Here’s one:
district 9 qr-code

Looks strange huh?! This is actually a QR Code that was used in the film District 9.

To read these, obviously, you’ll need to have a QR Reader. If you want to go find one for your device I would suggest BeeTagg Pro (my preferred) or i-nigma. Both are available for iPhone (in the AppStore) and Android phones, I don’t know about Blackberry. Both the apps a free. I’ll go into more detail about these apps in a mo.

It’s ok if you want to go download an app and try the QR code above. You should be able to scan them straight off your screen (unless you’re reading this on the smartphone…) I’ll wait!

OK, played? Liked it? Yeah, me too! All sorts of thoughts are spinning right now! Try this QR code which I produced at:

chart img

This one is a text file with information about a Geocaching event in Titchfield in September.

Seeing the possibilities yet? Business cards with your information embedded? T-Shirts with a really rude message? What about stickers with a website link? Any other ideas?

These QR codes have been extremely popular in Japan but so far have been relatively unknown in the UK and Europe. They are becoming more popular though.

That image above brings me to the apps themselves. I mentioned BeeTagg Pro and i-nigma earlier. There are others out there, but these are the two that I tested (‘cos they is free right!). Each has its good points and each has issues.

First up, BeeTagg Pro. It’s a little slow to start, the imaging window (below left) is a little fussy on “seeing” the QR image and there’s no way to stop a recognised scan from going straight to a web address. BeeTagg Pro (certainly on the iPhone) uses a built-in browser rather than going straight to Safari. That’s not great as you don’t know where the web address might take you. Anyone???

mobile screen

That said, the information displayed from a text based QR code is fab! Take a look at the information in the image above right. This is all information that is embedded in the QR code image further up the post.

So, i-nigma.

Much quicker to start and much much quicker at reading the image. I had to try 4 times before I got the image on the left, it’s that fast at reading the image. i-nigma also gives you the option to go online, rather than taking you directly to the URL. However, there’s a huge problem with i-nigma. I scanned the same QR Image with both BeeTagg Pro and i-nigma. The image on the right below shows the output from i-nigma:

That’s no so good is it?! The app has only outputted the link and has ignored all the rest of the information. So, Bee Tagg Pro it is for me!

Just before I end this post (that is much longer than I first intended!) I am thinking of creating a geocaching “multi-cache” using QR code images for stages of the mutli-cache. Of course, I would have to provide ordinary clues to get it past the Geocaching.com reviewers, but I see no reason why this shouldn’t work.

Oh, just one more image for you to scan:
another qr code

Written by Admin