Driving though the progressive town of Manor, TX on Halloween night just before sunset, I came across something quite peculiar – a large QR code hanging from a fence that bordered a small city park. I decided to investigate.
What I found amazed me. Manor (pronounced MAY-ner), Texas, this tiny town just east of Austin, is hip to some of the newest technologies out there. Even their progressive larger neighbor has shown itself to be a little slow in adopting some very low-tech ways (a wooden board with black and white ink!) to bring our high-tech society together.
I learned that Manor is transforming a typical neighborhood park into what they call a “Smart Park.” It allows residents and visitors to learn a little more by simply pointing their “smart” phones at the “smart” code and are directed to all kinds of information, photos and links to more content. That’s pretty smart, don’t you think?
The usefulness of QR codes is just in its infancy, like many other such tools. In this example, the city uses the codes to educate visitors to the many historical sites, such as the Bloor Mansion. There, the link I’m directed to is a simple landing page with facts about the history and a single photo. If Manor wanted to get a little more inventive they could include an audio tour or even a video presentation that I can watch right from my phone; perhaps even a map taking me to the location of the next landmark. A landing page is easy and can be created with little effort. An audio or video presentation requires a bit more investment in time and money, but the payoffs could be enormous.
I only had a few moments to drive around Sunday night capturing photo’s of this fascinating little town before moving on to the Halloween Festival I was taking my 3 year old daughter to. The last place I saw a QR code was Manor’s Digital Stop #5, a Methodist church where I was able to learn the history of Methodists in Manor, the building and the name of the current pastor.
So what does this all mean? Well, think about this — currently, in most places, when you stop at a historical marker, there’s usually a wood, metal or stone plaque. In Manor, there’s a 2D barcode that you can scan with your phone. It can give you any kind of information the maker of the code wants in any form they chose. It can be updated in an instant and improved over time to fit the current age of technology.
It isn’t a question anymore of whether we’re going to see these codes being used at all levels, it’s just a matter of how soon it will be adopted and who will be in control of the information. I look forward to it. I have the tools to access the information, and the potential this technology holds is extraordinary.
How about you? Play with any QR codes yet? What’s the coolest one you’ve seen so far?