Don't ring the QR code death knell just yet

A few years ago QR codes promised to be the next big thing--a perfect way to link physical marketing and services to online resources via mobile device. But the technology, which allows users to snap a smartphone picture of a checkerboard-like code that directs them to a website or app, has not exactly lived up to the hype.

After a brief moment of appearing on conference agendas and fast food menus, QR codes are once again harder to come by.

For one thing, notes AdAge, QR codes do not work unless the audience has a very strong incentive to scan the code and the promotion around the code is enticing. Some new use cases are addressing those two issues that have stymied widespread adoption of the technology.

In China, QR codes are seeing a resurgence thanks to a new mobile app called WeChat. Part QR code reader, part social platform blending elements of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, WeChat has the Chinese even using personal QR codes to identify themselves on social media, reports AdAge.

Another popular app in the country, called Wochacha, has 140 million users and uses QR code scanning for comparing the prices of various products.

Mercedes-Benz has also discovered a compelling use case for the codes, reports Design & Trend. According to Daimler, all 2013 Mercedes models and later are outfitted with QR codes and all Mercedes and Smart cars from 1990 through 2013 can obtain QR codes at dealerships free of charge.

The QR codes could play an important role in the event of an accident, says Design & Trend. First responders can scan the code, found behind the fuel flap and the support between the front and rear door windows of an automobile, upon arriving at the scene. Doing so will provide vehicle information such as where to use rescue shears and where things like airbags, high-pressure cylinders or, in the case of hybrid vehicles, high-voltage cables are located.

And while new incentives to use QR codes show promise, Israel-based Visualead is taking on the challenge of making QR codes more aesthetically pleasing. AdAge reports that the company allows businesses to incorporate QR codes into photos, art or videos.

"Visual QR codes don't have to be static, they can be animated--or even embedded in a video--to include a visual call to action, like someone inviting you to scan or an avatar winking at you," Oded Israeli, the company's vice president of marketing, told AdAge.

For more:
- read the AdAge article
- read the Design & Trend article

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