Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Death of QR Codes?

A while back I wrote about a technology similar to QR codes, but prettier, from Digimarc, but that's failed to gain traction in the U.S. Now, look out for Germany-based Printechnologics who has developed a cool technology called Touchcode. As its website states:

Touchcode is an invisible digital data storage, which can be printed on paper or foil using conventional printing processes. It is simply read using a touchscreen device, such as a smartphone. And because Touchcode is so easy to produce and use, costs are able to be kept to a minimum.

Basically, they developed a way to print invisible codes using a material that can be recognized by touchscreens much, similar to how touchscreens can detect fingers on-screen. This YouTube video explains the technology. The ending is pretty slick where they embedded an interactive menu to let you view other videos of hypothetical vertical industry use cases.

This has exciting potential for traditional and digital marketers since it marries both worlds! It's like QR codes that can launch lots of online content, such as a website, video, game, etc. But it's better than QR codes because:
  1. They're invisible to the naked eye and not ugly black and white spotted squares.
  2. You don't need a QR code scanning app or camera. The smartphone touchscreen is the "reader."
  3. Unlike URL shorteners and QR codes that could link you to some unknown malicious destination URL, Printechnologics hosts the content of the destination links on their servers so it's secure and vetted.
  4. It has authentication capability because they're not easily photocopied like QR codes.
  5. They claim to be cheaper in production and distribution costs than QR codes and RFID technology.
They envision use cases in ticketing, CPG, publishing, and gaming, as illustrated on their website and YouTube video. In some ways, they feel like a solution looking for a problem as they start signing on pilot customers...but I think there are a lot of marketing "problems" out there for them to solve!


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