My interest in QR (quick response) codes started a couple of years ago following a June 2010 talk at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (post) and a week later I had my new business cards complete with scan-able QR codes on the back.
I’ve been watching the gradual growth in use of QR codes for marketing purposes, and have also been looking for practical examples of their use in architecture, engineering, construction, property, etc. For example, I have seen a local Greenwich estate agent using QR codes to take passers-by who scan the image to a mobile version of their website so that they can view properties for sale or to let.
A chance tweet on a related topic led to a conversation this week with Chris Lovelock of Leicestershire, UK-based SaaS vendor ICON, who told me they were exploring the use of QR codes for asset management for their retail clients (which include firms such as Boots and Waitrose – post). The ICON system provides specification information about furniture, fixtures and equipment deployed in stores, and Chris felt label-mounted QR codes could be used to provide rapid navigation from the shopfloor to the relevant online information about the item carrying the label (label durability is, of course, a key issue).
Chairs, light fittings, air-handling units and dozens of other items could be labelled, allowing an on-site user to quickly access information on a smartphone or tablet device about the item’s manufacture, installation advice, maintenance procedures, etc, as well as the latest information about the relevant corporate standards for the item (is it ‘current’ or ‘obsolete’?). We also discussed how particular objects such as escalators, lifts, air-conditioning units, etc could be given unique codes linking the user to that item’s service history, certifications and other information.
In a construction context, QR codes could also be used for logistics purposes, helping track consignments of materials and building components and record their arrival on site, their installation, commissioning and maintenance. They might also be cheaper than RFID tags.