This last Friday, the Mesa Chamber of Commerce put on their own version of the Amazing Race. They called it “The Amazin Race. There were about 15 businesses that hosted a location and there were about 50 participants in teams of 3 and 4 that ran around town. Each business that hosted a location had a budgeted 15 minutes to put the participants through some test, to educated them about that specific business and to give them the hint as to what their next location would be. My Mesa Alphagraphics Center was one of the businesses that hosted the participants.
What we decided to do is put the participants through a six question test using QR Codes. For those who are new to QR Codes, it stands for Quick Response Code. It was invented in Japan in 1994 as a means of translating information on a printed piece or sign into data on a phone simply by scanning the QR Code with the phone camera and going to the specified website. It quickly caught on in Japan, Brazil and in Europe but has been extremely slow in adoption in the U.S. similar to the adoption rate of the smartphone. Essentially, by using the camera on your phone, you can be directed to a website, you can send an email, you can send a text message, you can direct the phone to call a specific phone number, you can write a message to the owner of the phone or you can transfer contact information to the phone owners address book.
A lot of phones that are being manufactured now come with the application to read these barcodes. IPhones, phones using the Android system and recent Blackberries have the ability to download the application that reads this code as well as several other barcodes. Most of the applications are free or $.99. We use Barcode Scanner because it seems to register the code a little easier and it works with the phone’s browser a little easier. You can get a free application for other phones by going to sites such as http://get.beetagg.com and following the instructions on how to install it on your specific phone.
Generating the QR Code is simple. Go to http://qrcode.kaywa.com and generate the code. It’s that easy.
What are some applications? The most widely used is placing the code in an ad for a business either on a postcard or in a magazine which takes the reader directly to the company website or the webpage for that specific item. Google sent out about 200,000 Google Favorite Places labels to put at the front door of the specific businesses with a QR Code. The code takes the person directly to the business Google Places website. Each of my Centers has the label at the front door. The code for my Tempe center is at the beginning of this post. Other uses could be on real estate signs which takes the user to the website describing the property and codes on autos for sale which describes the car. I have even thought about QR Codes on headstones taking the person to a website that describes the deceased person in detail.
So, here are the QR Codes we gave to our participants. Let me know in the comments below where the codes take you to. The last code was the hint that we gave to the participants to determine their next location and the second to last QR Code was the text message they had to send in order to complete their mission.
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