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Joseph Barber of CodeZ QR on the future of quick response codes

Published on January 21, 2010

Interviewer: Hi, Cary Sherburne and Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Joseph Barber, who is with Copy, and he is the Chief QR Officer, and we talked earlier about what QR codes are and what they’re doing today in terms of making print interactive and broadening some of the options for marketers. Where do you see this going In the future?

Joseph Barber: Well, there’s just a host of directions that it can take, but one of the most fascinating for me is tying in the location intelligence of the cell phone into the marketing ad. So, if you saw a product that you were interested in and you responded to it, you might be able – it can give you back based on your GPS location, what’s the nearest location here, or knowing where your home is, on the route home it can give you directions to the nearest locations and could even download that direction into the navigator that’s running on your phone.

Interviewer: It’s a little Big Brother-ish, but my understanding is that a lot of the digital natives, the younger generation doesn’t really care about that as much as some of us older folks do.

Joseph Barber: Yeah. I think the digital natives, as you say, have come to accept the fact that privacy in the digital age is rapidly diminishing. It’s just a way of life. And the ease and utility of these applications far outweighs any of their privacy concerns.

Interviewer: So then, the other thing about QR codes is, I mean, you have to be honest, they’re not really all that attractive. Right? Like, if you’re a graphic designer, you’re probably like, eww. But is there a way to embed QR codes in a different way into graphics so they’re not quite so obnoxious?

Joseph Barber: Yeah, there actually is. And if you look at a lot of the applications in Japan, you’ll see a lot of creative uses. But this QR code here is generated as a font, and so being a font you can control the colors in there, you can control a variety of different things. The other thing that you can do is because of the error correction capabilities within the code, you can overlay logos and manipulate the code to put words and stuff into there so that it becomes a branding tool in an of itself. And then you can just work it into the design of the advertising to make it fit in as part of the thing. So, maybe somebody’s shirt in an ad or something like that.

Interviewer: And then at Copy, what are you doing to promote the use of QR codes, particularly in North America where the adoption rate has been a little bit slower.

Joseph Barber: Sure. Well, we actually developed our product about three years ago and we’ve spend the interim time talking with our extensive user base from the data matrix world trying to understand how the users would like to use it, and then working with all of the analysts to really get the word out and working with the carriers and the handset manufacturers to get this to where it is today. So now we have most of the handset manufacturers are preloading QR readers on their phones and so, the infrastructure is there to really start to see this take off.

Interviewer: Even here in the U.S.?

Joseph Barber: Yes. And one of the limiting factors for a long time is the lack of the bandwidth in the U.S., but now all the major carriers have upgraded to their 3G networks, and in fact, you have the 4G networks coming online. And so the bandwidth is no longer the issue, and that’s all taken place in the last 18 months. And that’s why you’ve seen a flurry of Ralph Lauren and Pepsi and other major brands starting to roll out campaigns. And so if you looked at the traditional curve of the technology adoption, I think we’re certainly on that point where we’re starting on the up tick and we’ll start to see just an explosion of these campaigns over the next 12 to 24 months.

Interviewer: That’s great, so in a year from now, I’m going to go do a little search on Google and find out how many Chief QR Officers there are.

Joseph Barber: You’re right. We’ll have our convention and at least hopefully, a dozen of us will show.

Interviewer: Yeah, and I’m so delighted to meet the very first.

Joseph Barber: Well, thank you.

Interviewer: Thank you.

Joseph Barber: My pleasure.


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