New QR Code, NFC and Augmented Reality Innovative Ideas

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QR codes, NFC and Augmented Reality (AR) have come a long way from their intended use thanks to the imagination and innovation of the people who use them. They have blazed trails on the web that is a boon to everyone who leans heavily on the internet, social media and promoting their business via digital means. There are those who say QR codes are dead. Obviously, judging from the news on QR codes that comes out every day, the nay-sayers’ careers in tech and social media are dead. Just check out this amazing collection of recent scanning world news!

Real Glass Google Glass Competitor?

Afraid of wearing Google Glass in public because people wearing them are being assaulted? WeON Glasses are the first-ever glasses — optical or sunglasses — which interact with your smartphone or tablet. They offer you several functions, such as notifications, remote control, alerts in case of loss and customization (sort of the poor person’s Google Glass).

All of this is possible because WeON Glasses incorporate a Bluetooth 4.0 chip, a battery, a multi-color LED set, a buzzer and two buttons. All these components are inserted into one of the frame temples. But you will be the only one that knows it, because WeON Glasses boast a fashionable and appealing design, whether used as optical glasses or as sunglasses.

Shipping June 14th, 2014, according to their website, 2014. Pre-order is 125 Euros.

You’re Not Drunk… it’s Augmented Reality!

BallerStatus.com – To celebrate the brand’s rich history, which dates back to 1795, Jose Cuervo has rolled out a new app called History In A Bottle, allowing users to explore the journey that Cuervo family traveled.

Upon downloading the app, you can hover your phone over a bottle of Cuervo Tradicional Silver or Reposado to unlock an augmented reality history lesson inside, from the volcanic eruption that enriched the soil for Cuervo’s agave plants, to the celebration of Cinco de Mayo 67 years later, to the heroic actions of Cuervo to relieve America from Prohibition’s dry spell, to the invention of the Margarita and its inspiration of bikini volleyball.

Areal: Augmented Reality App

Areal is a leading augmented reality app for mobile devices across all platforms.Bridging the gap between the print and digital mediums Areal’s has the best in class AR engine which turns any smartphone into an active scanner for all AR based contents. You can find all your interests like the prints & magazines with extra contents that breaths into action on your devices. Areal also provides users information over the horizon on various interests, mapping the world in augmented reality. The free Areal app is downloadable from Google’s Play Store for any Smartphone and Tablet device.

areal.screen

QR Codes Aide Goodwill Charities

goodwill_0514_t620Orange County Business Journal – Goodwill of Orange County on Tuesday revealed redesigned donation bins that include more high-tech features. The bins, dubbed “Smile Box,” allow donors to scan a QR code with their phones to obtain a receipt. They also have sensors that alert Goodwill when they have reached capacity.

There are currently two bins placed, one at an Albertsons store in Orange and Rancho Santa Margarita. A total of 20 are expected to be installed locally by the end of the year.

Holly Hogwarts! Living Snapshots?

Will digital frames make this obsolete or would pictures and their audio going 24/7 drive people in the house insane?

My Social Book Needs a Little Help From QR Codes

While the previous Fuji Film, AR story would be great for My Social Book, users who want to use the printed volume of their 2013 timeline, planting QR codes on posts now will make for a better book for 2014!

What they don’t mention is that images don’t fly off the page nor are they videos. This is where QR codes come into play (Read more here).

600K New mWallet Downloads in the Last Month

Pymnts.com – ISIS mobile wallet- a joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless launched in November of 2013 — allows customers packing a NFC-enabled Android handset, a special SIM and the right  app to make contactless payments at tens of thousands of merchant locations nationwide.  The mWallet is now supported by 68 smartphones and comes preloaded on 14 mobile devices.  It is even available on phone not equipped with NFC–though in that case a special a specially-designed sleeve must be purchased separately.

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Cymplifi is in Augmented Reality Fashion!

Why even buy clothes? Shouldn’t we have AR outfits? The best thing about this app is you can destroy lives by making unlikely people dress in inappropriate outfits!

Afraid of GMOs? Try QRC’s for Food Info

Mobile Commerce News – The Black Restaurant Group which owns such businesses as Republic, as well as Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, and BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant, has now offered the complete traceability experience to consumers, and the interest in these QRcodes has come flooding back. A scan of these barcodes now allows a customer to be able to identify the specific type of fish, as well as understand where it was caught, when, and through what means and forms of equipment.

The menus and seafood cases from the company are now all lined with these quick response codes, which give customers the opportunity to know exactly what is being sold to them, right down to the individuals who caught the seafood in the first place. Through this feature, consumers no longer need to rely on labeling that is either very poor or that is difficult to interpret.

Consumers can also scan these QR codes to be confident in knowing that they are buying what the label says. This, according to the fishmonger, M.J. Gimbar, is quite revolutionary, as it has become quite a common practice among others in the industry to swap and substitute without telling the consumer.

Many organic produce growers are also using QR codes for their packaging to inform and engage customers.

But… It’s Already ON the Web!

Strange QR new comes out of China this week. Chinese social media site RenRen is giving users the ability to create a personal, animated QR code for their profile page, which they can use to let contacts add them quickly to their friends list.

RenRen, which has more than 200million active users,is starting fairly quickly with this rollout. Users can choose from a gallery of 25 animations that are then combined with their profile data to create their individual code.

“RenRen users can scan the QR code to add that person as a friend,” the company explained to NFC World+. “Also, they can be shared as a news feed on RenRen. People can read the codes with a scanner on a smartphone.”

renren-qr-animation

This is a cool animated gif, QR code that flashes and will give people convulsions before they can load their scanning software onto their device. I assume it can be scanned, even though the code inverts itself very quickly (my Android phone wouldn’t scan either code on my desktop screen — does it work for you?). The big question is; if it’s on the profile page, on the web (because it’s an animated gif), why would anyone need to scan it to… see your profile? This may not work out the way RenRen thought.

Facebook announced in April a similar QR code use with their mobile site, but no animated codes, which may the smart way to go in this questionable QR code usage initiative.

Top image ©GL Stock Images

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iTech Review: Learn Augmented Reality, NFC and QR Codes Before 2015!

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If you feel like 2013 flew by, then you would be right as it seems our existence is tied closely, symbiotically, actually, with our personal technological devices. Our computers, cameras, phones and music players long ago became one device, and still that device gets smarter. It talks to us, it shows us how to travel, keeps our appointments and has generally become our mother. The web has also changed and will evolve quickly this year. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with augmented reality, NFC or QR codes, then you may not survive to see 2015.

The best way of judging all three of these web-based tools (is it even worth mentioning the short-lived SnapTags?) is to look at the capabilities of each, and how they are used in marketing, and communications today.

Augmented Reality

According to Wikipedia:

Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct, or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.

Research explores the application of computer-generated imagery in live-video streams as a way to enhance the perception of the real world. AR technology includes head-mounted displays, and virtual retinal displays for visualization purposes, and construction of controlled environments containing sensors, and actuators.

Google Glasses one of the first forays into consumer available uses of AR technology, and it’s a beautiful use of the technology. With the headset at the ready, AR codes and image recognition capabilities will surely give QR codes a run for their money and may… MAY, be the replacement technology. Unfortunately for GG owners, marketing society will take a long time to supply the input for users. Creating the material is still complicated and expensive.

Perhaps in three to five years, once a majority of consumers own the headsets, and mobile technology is seamlessly integrated, and the headsets are proven not to cause migraines, and cancerous tumors in users, marketers will abandon QR codes. However, expect QR codes to evolve at the same pace as AR based devices. Time will tell, and all the speculation in the world can’t possibly second guess the uses that will be available, while making those who are involved with the technology, the new batch of millionaires… or billionaires.

Check out this collection of AR examples and capabilities.

NFC

Near field Communications (NFC) was patented in 1983, but standards were set in 2004. You may have used NFC technology since then without even realizing it. Do you commute, and use a PayPass in your car to pay tolls without having to stop, and make a payment each time you travel over a bridge, or through a tunnel? Do you touch a monthly commuter pass card to a token box, or turnstile when boarding a train, or bus? Do you pay for your morning coffee by touching your credit card to a target on a cash register, and then just leave? Do you “bump” your smartphone against someone else’s to exchange contact information? When you walk into work, do you have a badge you wave in front of a sensor to gain entry? If you do, you are using NFC technology.

Near field communication (NFC) is a set of standards for smartphones, and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together, or bringing them into close proximity, usually no more than a few centimeters apart. Communication is also possible between an NFC device, and an unpowered NFC chip, called a “tag.”

There are three modes of operation for NFC.

  • The read/write mode allows an NFC device to read a tag like the kind you’d find in a poster.
  • The peer-to-peer mode makes it possible for two NFC-enabled devices to exchange information. This lets you do things like tap your phone to another person’s phone to exchange contact information and other files.
  • Finally, there’s the card emulation mode. This is what lets NFC emulate, or imitate a smart card like the kind you use in public transportation, or ticketing systems.

NFC devices can be used in contactless payment systems, similar to those currently used in credit cards and electronic ticket smartcards, and allow mobile payment to replace, or supplement these systems. For example, Google Wallet allows consumers to store credit card, and store loyalty card information in a virtual wallet, and then use an NFC-enabled device at terminals that also accept MasterCard PayPass transactions. Germany, Austria, Latvia, and Italy have trial tested NFC ticketing systems for public transport. China is using it all over the country in public bus transport, and India is implementing NFC based transactions in box offices for ticketing purposes.

Looking to create a more interactive experience, the Museum of London teamed up with Nokia to create NFC-enabled apps. Visitors with NFC-enabled devices can learn more about various objects on display, buy tickets for future exhibitions, get vouchers for the museum’s shop, and cafés, and Like or follow the museum on various social media platforms.

(Read Forget mobile payments. The future is the mobile wallet)

With NFC “tags,” perhaps implanted in our thumbs, we could, in theory, become a cashless, and keyless society (At CES 2012, Yale Lock demonstrated another use for NFC. The company had built special electronic locks that use NFC to lock or unlock doors. Holding your phone up to a pad on the door sends a signal from the phone to the lock. The lock disengages, and you can get inside), despite the conspiracy theories that would come up.

(Read Mobile Payments May Replace Cash, Credit Cards by 2020)

General uses of NFC include:

  • Matching encrypted security code, and transporting access key.
  • Due to short transmission range, NFC-based transactions are possibly secure.
  • Instant payments, and coupon delivery using a smartphone handset, as done with your credit card, or debit card.
  • Marketing, and exchange of information such as schedules, maps, business cards, and coupon delivery using NFC marketing tags.
  • Pay for items just by waving your phone over the NFC capable devices.
  • Transferring images, posters for displaying, sharing to social media, and printing.
  • Effortless social media outreach, e.g., “Like” on Facebook, “follow” on Twitter via NFC smart stickers in retail stores, and printed material containing NFC chips.

Companies certainly see other uses, and the opportunities of furthering the empowerment of one’s personal smartphone. Like the cards you currently use to check into work (or open that locked front door) NFC works with receivers, and transponders that can communicate, but only if the two parts are within a few centimeters of each other. However, placing that communication within a phone has some other, added benefits. The phone is a communication device, so it can receive clearance updates on the fly, always up to date.

For instance, if you’re locked out of Building B because you do not have access, an email to the security administrator could push an update to your phone, which would then update the NFC chip’s clearance information. In a matter of moments, you go from locked out, to checking in.

Naturally, not everyone is jumping on the NFC wagon. Apple is still a major hold out on including NFC capabilities with their phones. According to TechRadar, in Jamie Carter’s article, “What is NFC and why is it in your phone?” it seems everyone else is getting ramped up. Samsung’s Galaxy 4 phone is NFC ready, as well as other manufacturer’s models.

A surprisingly huge number, largely because NFC have long been supported by the makers of Android handsets. Though Apple is yet to embrace NFC, flagship, and mid-range handsets from the likes of samsung, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, LG, and Blackberry all include NFC.

The latter all feature BlackBerry Tag, a peer-to-peer feature in the BlackBerry 7.1 OS that allows users to share contact information, documents, URLs, photos, and other multimedia content by tapping their BlackBerry smartphones together.

NFC is still in its trial phase, but it’s got a big future. ABI Research predicts that 1.95 billion NFC-enabled devices will ship in 2017, largely in smartphones, though NFC will also enter the living room. WiFi routers will swap passwords for a simple “tap” from any smartphone, tablet or games console, with 395 million consumer electronics devices to ship in 2017 – in other words, NFC will be in everything.

Naturally, the fear of NFC has always been the very thing that makes it convenient – the radio frequency can be stolen by readers passed close to your phone or wallet, filled with NFC credit cards. The stickers used to register NFC use can easily be used by unscrupulous people who might stick it to doorways of busy buildings, and stores, collecting people’s information, especially from apps that store bank account, and credit card information.

The technology, although not new, still has some distance before it is ready for wide usage, and like the QR code, and AR technology, everything evolves daily, so by ship dates of 2017, who knows if a new technology will surpass NFC? There are certainly issues that need to be worked out.

QR Codes

Say what you will about AR and NFC, but they are still years away from QR code usage. QR codes are affordable, easy to use, and provide all the planned uses the other technologies promise, but have not as yet fulfilled. QR can and will also be incorporated into each new technology.

QR codes generations, at least through uQR.me, are recyclable, and can be reprogrammed as information changes. There are no large reprogramming costs.

  • Creating QR codes are free and businesses of any size can use them effectively.
  • All mobile devices can use QR codes NOW!
  • The technology has been perfected, and will continue to evolve with safe, guaranteed results from available scanners.
  • QR codes, as with AR and NFC is a linking tool, and it is the content to which they link that makes for success or failure.

So, Anticipate great things down the road, but don’t lose sight of what you need today… and tomorrow… and probably the next day as well. Happy 2014!

Featured image ©GL Stock Images

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Getting Involved With Augmented Reality

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When I wrote about QR codes (Designed QR codes: the next level), it was very well received. When I wrote “SnapTags: Will they kill QR codes?” people got a little nasty with their suggestion on what I could do with snaptags and my mother. Now that I’m delving into Augmented Reality, I’m wondering what suggestions people will have for me… and certain family members when I insist that AR is the future of digital media?

According to Wikipedia: Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.

Augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world. The term, “augmented reality” is believed to have been coined in 1990 by Thomas Caudell, working at Boeing.

Research explores the application of computer-generated imagery in live-video streams as a way to enhance the perception of the real world. AR technology includes head-mounted displays and virtual retinal displays for visualization purposes, and construction of controlled environments containing sensors and actuators.

What are Some Examples of AR?

There are many examples you can or have seen. Here’s a recent one made by Disney and displayed in Times Square:

Of course, with Pixar tucked neatly into their back pockets, Disney’s AR piece is the top of technology. Appshaker, London did a really impressive AR piece for National Geographic:

So, What Does This All Mean to Your Business?

AR is another information delivery avenue via digital technology and applications are only limited by your imagination. Your business card, for instance, is a small piece of paper with your name, position, company name, address (sometimes), contact information and email/web site addresses are the old standard of information sharing in face-to-face situations, but does it sell you and your business?

Networking experts tell us we should have a 30-60 second “elevator speech’ (the time you would have with someone trapped riding in an elevator with you) where you describe what you do. Short, sweet and complete. What if you are on the ground floor or the stairs? You would get winded climbing several flights of stairs while giving your speech and the other person might run away or push you down the stairs to get rid of you. Having a business card with AR capability gives that speech for you without stutters, stammers, winded strokes or heart attacks.

Let your business card do your talking as seen in these examples:

Naturally, the same application can be used for your brochures, phone directory ads, flyers, etc. Let a small printed or digital area pack a big punch with lots of information. Ikea has made great use of AR technology for several years. Starting with AR for their instruction manuals in 2010…

Ikea has now created a completely AR catalog…

For application on packaging, AR can give consumers a view into the product…

Recognition Technology

You may have noticed that like QR codes and SnapTags, AR was tied to a small symbol for the application to work. “WAS” is the key to how the technology has evolved. Facial and image recognition is now the standard.

In a recent TED article, Matt Mills and Tamara Roukaerts demonstrate Aurasma, a new augmented reality tool that can seamlessly animate the world as seen through a smartphone. Going beyond previous augmented reality, their “auras” can do everything from making a painting talk to overlaying live news onto a printed newspaper.

Here’s examples of facial recognition via AR…

All of this comes with a price… cyber-stalking made easy is one of them but in the hands of the wrong people, which would be everyone, all of your digital information is now in the hands of everyone. It seems to be one of the dark sides of advances in technology.

Still, the technology and the GPS application has incredible information value when applied to location recognition…

How Much Does This Cost?

How much does a web site cost? How much does it cost to produce and air a commercial on TV? The question is; how much will AR save me for marketing and advertising and what kind of reach will it have?

Obviously AR technology is here to stay and will continue to evolve along with iPads, cell phones and other personal digital devices that we now rely upon in our daily lives. Like creating a web site for your business, there are financial options at both ends of the spectrum. There are the companies spotlighted in the examples in this article but there are also do-it-yourself apps you can use. It all depends on how professional an AR piece you can create. Here’s a few links to AR apps. Check them out…

http://onvert.com/

http://www.hitl.washington.edu/artoolkit/

http://blog.neonascent.net/archives/augmented-reality-code/

http://mobile.tutsplus.com/tutorials/android/android_augmented-reality/

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/code-free_augmented_reality_in_under_5_minutes_video.php

Top image ©KZERO Worldwide

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