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Sunday, September 9, 2012

QR Codes Already Look Old-Hat

So, you've heard about QR Codes ? ... You know - those cool little squares of dots that you can scan with your mobile phone to find out more about the poster at your local bus stop.

They work by encoding a piece of information (usually a URL or phone number) into a picture that can be recognised by an app and decoded for use by the end-user.

Example of a generated QR Code which generates an SMS message on the user's phone (courtesy: kaywa.com)

QR Codes are neat and are finally starting to get a bit more traction in Australia, having been massively popular particularly in Asia for a couple of years.

The Next Generation of Interaction

Now there's a new player emerging and it promises to let you interact in an even more personal way with "real world" objects.

Most tablet and smartphone devices (Android, Windows Mobile, Apple iOS etc) use a technology known as "capacitive touchscreens". This works - basically - because the human body is slightly electrically conductive, allowing the device to detect changes in the electrostatic field of the screen when it is touched by your fingers or a special stylus (Wikipedia explains it much better).

You can even buy gloves that let you use your smartphone in cold climates by conducting electricity from the tips of the outside of the glove through to your fingertip.

So, if electrical conductivity of the human body can be used to control your phone, why couldn't a piece of similarly conductive material be used to do the same thing ?

In fact, it can. Just print a pattern on the paper (a playing card or a magazine, for example) using a special capacitive ink and the pattern - when pressed against a touchscreen - will register as if a very complex hand was touching the screen.

Then all you need is to have clever app developers like Creative Intersection build an app that can read those patterns and translate them into actions within the app.

Example of Touchcode (courtesy: nukotoys.com)

As a long-time member of the Printing Industries Association of Australia, we are already in talks with local printers to provide this technology under license from its German inventors.

If you too can see some potential for this technology (or the Good Ol' QR Code), combined with an app for iPhone/iPad, Android phone or tablet, or Windows mobiles & tablets, call us for a chat.