QR codes are awesome. And fun. I'll even go as far as saying QR codes are awesomely fun. I've posted about them on here before as a valid marketing medium. Even today, I still firmly believe that QR is a great tool in which to bring in tangible things into a digital world. There are some really cool things happening with QR codes, a lot of which that happens within the walls of where I work. But...I think QR codes are just a bridge for something bigger and better.
This is one of the new forms of emerging tech that really intriques me, though I'm not near as smart as I'd like to be in regards to how it really works. Augmented reality (AR), in a very watered down definition, is when you show an object in front a camera and an image is digitally superimposed onto that real life object. A good example of how this works is found via this demo from @tomerific at @engauge's #digday11:
This tech is already being used in other practical ways. Several apps do tap into blending AR with geolocation to enhance a user experience. Wikitude shows users where different people are tweeting, checking into locations or using other apps within their vicinity. An even more popular app - Yelp - uses its monocle feature to attempt to show reviews of the venues you may be looking at through your phone based on your location. Because the GPS technology isn't refined enough yet, this type of feature isn't a perfect science yet.
Near Field Communications
I think for what AR won't provide in regards to linking to content, NFC technology will compensate for. One redeeming feature that QR codes provide is being able to send users to hyperlinks to either mobile friendly fan pages, videos, or some sort of written content that may not fit nicely into how AR would be used. This is where NFC could potentially kick in. You've seen this technology first arise in things like PayPass but more recently being championed by Google in the form of Google Checkout and how they used the tech to allow Foursquare checkins with the simple wave of a phone over a chip. Instead of simply checkins and payments, NFC technology could go as far as sending people to the same content as QR codes. Just instead of fighting the lighting to get a good view of the code, a simple wave of a phone would accomplish the same thing.
So Why Aren't We Using This Now?
Despite this capability, QR codes are still relevant for conversation. Consumers are just now getting used to the idea of scanning barcodes with their phones when they see them. Plus, the AR and NFC technology isn't widespread enough to make a significant impact. Not many smartphones actually have NFC capabilities natively built-in while AR is a technology that is just beginning to unearth its potential.
If you're trying to reach mass quantities of consumers in interesting ways, I still firmly believe QR is a great way to accomplish that depending on the situation. However, I see QR codes as more of a training apparatus for consumers on how to interact with the technology to come. Once we get used to scanning, waving our phone in front of an object will be a natural transition.
So what do you think? Will QR codes eventually be phased out? How will we see this type of tech evolve?