Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

More QR Code Options and the MS HCCB Code?

QR codes continue to interest me in opportunities for innovative communication. I have seen a few examples of them used with embedded branding. A neat example of that is one for the True Blood show on HBO. That code is in shades of red, rotated and has rounded edges (rather than the traditional black squares on white background). It links to a True Blood trailer website. The main complaint that I have about that usage is the site should detect the accessing device and present the page in an appropriate manner rather than being smallish and difficult to read on my iPhone. You can probably assume that most devices accessing the code will be mobile, small and likely a cellphone. I recently ran across a Bose audio ad that contained something somewhat similar in appearance to a QR code but was more colorful and contained triangles. A textual note on the page asked the reader to go to the gettag.mobi site to install an app to read it. That code is actually a Microsoft HCCB (High Capacity Color Barcode) tag. HCCB tags are able to “do more” than standard QR codes but have a number of disadvantages including being proprietary and do not contain information but instead require an Internet connection to access the material. They also can include advertising tracking information where QR codes do not have to. QR codes can contain standalone content which can be formatted to a specific use (such as a MECARD for contact info) or they can link to something else. Given the proliferation of QR code reader apps for iOS and Android devices today it is hard to imagine that MS can force users to install an app with a very limited purpose. Their reader app is likely to come pre-installed on any device that runs an MS operating system and contains a camera so they may expect usage to grow much like it did for IE (being pre-installed on MS operating systems). It would be interesting to find out who at Bose thought that using an HCCB code in product literature was a good idea over the much more common QR code.