Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Touch Me

No, we're not talking Penn State football today.  Is it too soon to joke about that?

We are doing many campaigns at work that integrate SMS or scanning of Quick Response (QR) codes that allow shoppers to engage more with retail or brands, while shopping.  Sometimes, it's additional information or comparisons.  Other times, its to get a quick link to something else, like an app download.  I do like this idea from J.C. Penney which effectively is a voice-card for holiday gifts that is recorded and activated through QR and your smartphone.  As I've said in the past, however, QR, as a technology has challenges that probably limit is shelf-life.

My good friend Loïc Hamon is Vice President of Marketing at InsideSecure, one of the world's largest providers of contact-less technologies, like Near Field Communication (NFC).  He rightfully looks at NFC not as a payment mechanism but more fundamentally as a new user experience, enabling the smartphone, in effect, to be a new form of mouse, or interactive device.  The NFC user experience is easier than QR: just tap to get more information, to take some action, to swap pictures or apps, or to pay.  They've been doing it in Japan for years with FeliCa, allowing people to tap their phone to get into the subway or make small payments at convenience stores.

At the heart of it, the use of the camera by QR or Augmented Reality (AR), while interesting for those apps, is a use for the camera that was not its original intent, so the user experience will always suffer and be more burdensome.  Unlock your phone, open an app, align a camera to an I taking a picture or scanning something?  

I say, "just tap and go."

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