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Comeback Kid

QR codes' surge in popularity opens the door for print opportunities.




DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN QR codes first came into commercial use? Odd black and white shapes fit snuggly into a square that were a bit disorienting. I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t a fan, until I connected with Linkz, a QR code app that was able to hide the symbol via an invisible digital watermark. In my March 2018 Insight I tested the tech. I urged you to download the app and scan my face that held the hidden QR code. I then, magically, appeared on your screen in video form.

Today, there’s no secondary app needed thanks to the technology in our smartphones. Eileen Fritsch hinted at this in “The Future of Packaging: Connect Print” article she wrote in the same March issue. At the time, the idea that we could simply tap our camera on our iPhone to scan a QR code seemed so futuristic. But in 2020, it’s reality. Today, after completing the previous steps, a link hovers at the top of your screen, which, if clicked, brings you to a webpage hosting whatever information the brand is providing.

The use of QR codes and augmented reality is a fantastic opportunity for your shop. Not only is it a cool application to offer your client, but it’s becoming so mainstream, partly due to the pandemic. For example, restaurants are now offering “hands-free” menus. Simply hover your phone over the piece of paper with the coded image (typically taped to the table, around the umbrella stand, or on the front door of the establishment) to see what’s available. The diner still has to touch their own phone, but now a plastic menu isn’t being passed around by hundreds of strangers right before they dive into some wings.

Plastic menus aren’t typically your thing anyway, so what can you print on a large scale that uses this technology? How about a QR code printed on a construction wrap around an apartment complex that’s being built? Interested tenants can scan the wrap to see the company’s website that includes floor plans, room layouts, and amenities. Movie theaters across the country are starting to reopen. Wouldn’t it be cool if attendees could scan the printed posters that are showcased around the building and watch the film’s trailer?

Luckily, creating a QR code is super easy and there are a bunch of free options available online. I made my own for fun using a stock image that linked to a website and it took about three minutes. Many of these services also allow for customization.

We know print isn’t dead. Let your readers know it’s actually alive.



Adrienne Palmer joined Big Picture magazine in 2012 after graduating from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism with a BA in magazine journalism. During her time with Big Picture, she has held the roles of assistant editor, associate editor, and managing editor, and is now serving as editor-in-chief. If she isn’t traveling, she’s planning her next trip.



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