QR? AR? WHAT? Oh Yes…

So… Twenty eleven is in the verge of being thing of the past, yet, did it bring a lot of the future? People were thrilled with a lot of stuff that were new to us in the digital world, but in my opinion the two things (if I can call them that) that got more attention were QR codes and Augmented Reality.

I remember in January the buzz that QR had. Everybody was talking about it, everybody wanted to know more, everybody wanted to do something with them. I personally saw a lot of campaigns using these as a medium… although very few of them were, at the very best, decent. It became a thing of just doing something cool (because of course, it’s a code, you scan it and it shows you something!!! that’s really cool, right?) more than really having a smart strategy and/or approach. Proof of this? Now. They are just “so, like, 2011”. Now, if you’re doing a QR code thing, you are behind… SO behind.

I really don’t like QR codes that much. They are a cool way to give away easy access to information but it has barriers, and those I don’t like. The most important one is that it’s kind of complicated to make people use them. Basically you’ve got to make people first know what it is, then make them download an app. Now, that may sound very simple but really for me is the best way to lose engagement: explaining. I’m in the advertising business, consumers don’t want to read a tutorial in order to get a message asking them to buy my product. It really doesn’t work like that, from my POV. The other barrier I hate is the  content. You can’t do a lot. And while the scanning aspect of it is interactive, once you scan you start losing that interactivity, unless you take users to a URL with an experience… which on a mobile phone… not sure. Are users going to make a call on the spot? don’t think so. Geo location? I mean… Scanning a QR code to get geo-location information seams to be unnecessary. I do have to accept that QR codes have tremendous potential, yet I haven’t seen anything that would make me go WOW. There was one project in Asia that you could do grocery shopping in a subway by scanning Codes on a wall and it definitely caught my attention. here’s the video:

Now there’s another guy in town: Augmented Reality. This is like QR codes on steroids. Cool, you ask? they are awesome! you scan a shape and can watch instantaneously  some cool animation, a video, a song, etc. and not only that, you can interact with the content!!  Now, why would you want to do a QR code when you can do AR? That’s been my question since I started doing my first AR experiments in flash.

The part that I like the most about AR is that you can interact real-time with an interface. Now, you don’t only have to think of a mobile use, or a desktop use. You can actually use a Digital Signage with a camera and … well, the sky is the limit!!! you can put things on top of people, make people play real-time, a virtual dressing room, etc.

What I don’t like? I really don’t like Desktop and mobile implementation. Why? It’s really weird to look at AR from a desktop… really, have you done it? You have to put the printed marker basically in front of your screen for the webcam to capture it and try to sneak to look at whatever happens, since you’re basically blocking the screen with the printed marker; doesn’t make any sense to me… Of course not all of them work like that, but… I don’t know, just feel like it doesn’t work. And mobile? The fact that you have to develop an application in order to execute I simply dislike. That gives people a requirement in case they are interested in experiencing this. From my perspective, in the end, the only people that are interested in looking at your advertising are your competitor advertisers… so they are the ones that are going to be eager to download my app and look at my AR campaign. Not interested.

Whether you go with QR or with AR, they are both mediums with lots of potential yet to be experimented. My vote goes for AR, but we definitely gotta think of an easier way to offer the experience on desktops and Mobile.


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