Assessing 2D barcodes for Smart Book functionality

One option for 'automating links' in the smartbook might be to use 2D barcodes to link to the virtual version of the book, plus additional resources etc. This post assesses potential for 2D barcodes incl. prelim. SWOT analysis.

(drafted and sent from my grad class)

A fellow student, Keiko, might use a 2D barcode scheme, Semacode ( in her course project

2D BARCODES vs RFID vs TYPING URLs - mini-SWOT analysis
There's a problem w/ 2D barcodes, as Beal tech manager, Adam H., has already highlighted.

In line with Adam's argument, this author says QR codes are "common but unloved":
The problem with the technology, which was first developed in 1994, becoming common in the last three years, is not the codes themselves – rather, it’s the phones.

Even the newest handsets still take several seconds to process the images before connecting to the associated website. What’s easier – typing or starting a phone’s camera software, getting it to focus on a QR Code and then waiting for it to be deciphered before clicking the ‘connect’ button? Unless a URL is clumsily long, [my emphasis] it has always been the former to date.

Although the codes are indeed a common sight these days – just not on some highway billboards, as the story suggests – they’re far from the finished article.

The fact that using QR Codes is not a simple matter of just ‘waving’ a phone at one means that their potential will remain untapped, probably until a genuinely barrier-free technology like RFID usurps them.

So it is tempting to argue that RFID should replace barcodes. However, 1D and 2D bar codes have different strengths and weaknesses from RFID, and from URL typing.

What's cool and unique about RFID tags is
-they can be WRITTEN as well as READ (so they can accumulate histories)
-they need no line of sight (so they can be read in clusters, inside boxes etc)

In using 2D barcodes, line of sight should be interpreted as a BENEFIT not a DRAWBACK -- because they MUST be seen by a scanner they CAN be seen by a human -- therefore 2D barcodes combine VISIBILITY and SCAN-ABILITY whereas

the point about "long URLs" is important -- where automated linking could be very useful is in enabling what the industry calls "DEEP LINKING"

homepage URLs are short & not that hard to key in from a QWERTY or multi-tap 9-key numeric pad
but users in mobile in mobile mode don't have much time/attention/device support for NAVIGATION

2D barcode references:

QR codes
developed in Japan;
used in printed and urban settings

Invented at Waterloo U, similar to QR codes
best-known application is
very clear, well articulated Web presence and value proposition
good support for figuring out if your phone is supported and where to download the software

"the global leader in camera-initiated transactions for mobile devices"
their site says:
Turning “old” media into “new” media…
NeoMedia enables print and broadcast media to become interactive with their target audience using 2D bar codes and mobile networks, by-passing long URLs, avoiding cumbersome menus, replacing toll-free service and delivering real-time content that can be carried away with the consumer on the mobile.
NeoMedia offers the tools and infrastructure for wireless carriers, brands, mobile phone manufactures and media companies to make optical messaging (OMS) and its associated commerce easy, universal, and reliable – worldwide.

Neomedia technical architecture

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