The convergence of voice, video and data is old news today, but when it happened it changed the world. New possibilities became available for the delivery of services like phone, movies and entertainment. All this was enhanced with the flood of small mobile devices. And now, we love being able to use our smartphone to connect to the internet, to take pictures and post to Facebook, to instantly get information about our location, to remain in constant contact with our social networks, and to have access to thousands of apps.
Now that same technology is bringing about a new convergence, a convergence with the print and paper world. Did I just say paper? If you have been involved in technology planning, you probably have explored the paperless office so saying that technology is now converging with print and paper probably makes you shudder. But a simple little two dimensional bar code and a smartphone with a camera have converged to become one of the most promising technologies today.
Two dimensional barcodes, known as QR Codes are showing up everywhere. They have become the missing link between the printed world and the smartphone phenomenon. A look at Google Trends Chart shows that QR Codes have peaked the world’s interest. Looking further, major brands are using QR Codes in very creative ways. GMC, Ford, and Chevy have all used QR Codes to promote their cars. The Weather Channel uses a QR Code to download apps. Best Buy uses QR Codes to directly link customers to mobile shopping. Starbucks uses QR Codes in mobile APPs to allow consumers to pay with a simple scan of a phone. Adidas Japan launches the FIFA World Cup 2010 site featuring a QR Code that takes you directly to the mobile version of the site. Facebook plans to give 450 million users and brands a QR Code linking to their Profile Page or Fan. Iron Man uses a QR Code in movie posters to promote the sequel. The JFK Presidential Library and Museum uses a QR Code to promote the associated Twitter account. ToysRus launched a new mobile campaign integrating QR Codes on signage and shelf talkers. ReMax is using on house signage. And the list goes on. For more companies visit QRe8.
And what does this hold for local government? It gives us a way to bring printed materials and signage to life. I have already introduced you to the QR Codes on our building hard cards in the blog What Is That Funny Little Thing On My Building Permit? This allows builders to see all the details of their construction project right on their smartphone. This is a true convergence of print and smartphone technology.
So what are some other things you may see in this convergence? Perhaps a QR Code when you enter the Commissioners meeting that will allow you to load a copy of the agenda on your Smartphone. At the library, books may have QR Codes that take you to reviews and comments about the book. You may see QR Codes appearing on business cards that will automatically load the contact information to your mobile device. You may see QR Codes being used in the park to give you information about plants and animals or operating hours. You may see QR Codes being used on literature to link you to videos. The use of QR Codes converged with all types of technology is only limited by our imagination.
Who would have thought that the technological convergence of the first decade of this century which seemed to shun paper and print would converge again to embrace these powerful tools from the past?