Friday, May 02, 2008

Embedded QR codes

Just to amuse myself, I was going to look for the building in Tokyo that most closely resembles a QR code (similar to my "Look Down!" campaign focusing urbanite awareness on subterranean infrastructure human access portals (STISHAPs, formerly "man-holes")). Then I realized that there are so many other forms in the urban hiker's environment. I started noticing QR codes and trying to imagine softer implementations -- like the failed subliminal monkey I did earlier.

One that I came up with was the i-go game board version. It looks a little sloppy, but at least it scans flawlessly and could be worse. I didn't find many short-cuts in making it, though, so I don't think I will mess with it again. Physically following the QR as a plan and photographing it would be easier than digitally making it, if only they made i-go boards that big. This isn't a url; it is just a 13-letter string.

Other graphical ideas I was chewing over were QR code in a worm-eaten leaf, QR code in a torn shoji paper screen (though it presents a few problems), QR code in a torn red (Chinese-style) lantern, and QR code in fallen cherry blossoms. Feel free to steal one of these ideas if you are a graphic artist trying to survive in advertising. I am sure these ideas are out there in the One Mind even if I haven't seen anything like that yet. I look forward to somebody coming out with a QR code generator that automagically embeds the QR code in the image or pattern of your choice.

I'm still getting used to the sensitivity of this technology and what counts and where and why readability drops off.

Since it uses data compression, humans will probably never develop the ability to read QR codes without machine assistance, unlike Braille. The advantage will go to the machines -- but I have a hunch QR codes will find various applications in human-to-human communication and be ubiquitous, although there may be a better technology around the corner. If it breaks through into popular culture we will see it more in stencils, quilts, cakes, tattoos, and clothing designs.

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