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QR Codes are NOT Dead and T+ink is NOT the Killer

Are you using QR codes correctly? While QR is a great technology where imagination took it far beyond its original purpose, it gained detractors when marketers didn’t use it correctly and consumers couldn’t scan codes due to size, distance or the codes being applied to the outside of fast moving vehicles. Then there were users who never linked the codes to mobile sites. It wasn’t the technology, but how it was used.

Naturally, every time something new came along, people jumped up and pronounced QR codes as being dead. First it was image recognition that promised to skip past QR codes. So, where is it? QR codes remain as the number one marketing tool for print to digital linking.

Then there were promises of “invisible” QR codes touted by one QR code generation site. It never came to be because consumers had become familiar with the codes and knew how to interact with them. A blank spot with a link just won’t promote scanning any more than a type link that isn’t blue would be a clear call to action. Enter the latest challenger to point to the technology cemetery and claim QR codes are the third grave from the right while pushing their new solution under our noses.

It’s not that QR codes won’t be replaced one day, albeit not as soon as people have predicted… or wanted so their own investments can flourish. The proof around us is that none of the challengers have ever taken hold of the market. QR codes continue to increase in marketing, packaging, education, entertainment, sports and information presentation usage.

Another Contender

The newest entry, which loudly touts their solution as the “QR killer” is not the killer it claims to be. The premise of this new “code” is that each and every image, book, magazine, toy or any other print material will hold an invisible T+ink code that when touched with a mobile device, tablet or any other touchscreen, it brings up the digital link… just like scanning a QR code. So far, not as revolutionary as the company promises.

In fact, it seems by the functions outlined, that the only difference is to touch your device to the coded area (as with NFC) as opposed to scanning a QR code. Is that alleged time-saving worth the functions lost when not using a QR code? Are there available analytics? Can the T+ink touch areas be recycled? While these prints are recyclable, there is no mention on their site about providing analytics. That’s a major drawback for marketers.

As with any printed material, the new code manufacturer warns about the possible problem with T-ink stability:

[pullquote]“The codes are as robust as the substrates it is printed on. It can resist bending, temperature changes, liquids, electromagnetic fields or vibration. If the substrate is (heavily) damaged then the code will be very likely damaged as well. To read the code, it has to lay flat on the multitouch screen.”[/pullquote]

Having worked with T+ink technology, I know that scratches on the T+ink printed circuitry can render the area unusable (like breaking a small wire in your earbuds). Even a fold and sharp crease can break the code function.

If these new codes depend upon a mobile device coming into direct contact with the coded area, then what about uses on billboards, posters that may not be close enough or printed material under plexiglass?

What’s the Future for QR codes and New Codes?

This is not a bash at attempts to create new technology. They are trying to evolve a tool, but like a hammer made from the wrong alloy, it won’t drive more nails, easier or faster. It took a while for QR codes to evolve as per their usage and most of all, the understanding of how they are used effectively. T+ink is great and another technology with unending possibilities, as with QR codes, NFC and other technology that will be born next week.

Creatives have long believed that Adobe Creative Suite would eventually, as the programs took on more functions from the other programs (i.e., Photoshop has gained functions previously only on Illustrator), eventually meld into just one program that would handle all design and image needs. It just might be that all of these technologies will also meld together and be better than each singular one could do.

It wasn’t long ago, believe it or not, when I would get frustrated explaining how to “double-click” something or what a link even looked like. We are still in an ever changing rush of technology and the future is as unpredictable as are the limits of imagination. For now, however, nothing has killed off the QR code, yet. It’s not even breathing heavy.

Top image ©GL Stock Images

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