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Interactive Printing

Making printed matter interactive

QR codes creating the missing link

The use of QR codes on printed matter has many more advantages for printers than dissadvantages, yet the adoption and acceptation by the printing industry appears slow and is currently driven by client marketing forces.

Brochures as example:

How often do thousands if not hundreds of thousands of preprinted brochures get recycles after lying in expensive storage because the information becomes outdated or the product or service becomes obsolete?
How often is it a battle to get all the information needed into a single brochure that is then still readable and representative?
Imagine you could connect this brochure to an information support network on demand.

QR codes as solution:

A QR code is 2D barcode that can be read by mobile phones and can contain instructions to go anywhere online. With this concept it is possible to manufacture smaller size brochures with more information by printing only the basic and main items and then linking these items to more indepth interactive information online.

ECO Benefits:
Saves paper.
Saves ink.
Saves solvents.
Saves energy.
Saves time.

Consumer Benefits:
Handy pocket size brochures.
Additional information on demand.

Owner Benefits:
Less paper useage.
Less storage usage (none if POD is applied).
Brochure could become a trackable marketing tool.
Brochures become partially dynamic, online information services can be changes even after the brochure has been printed.


Blocking Factors for QR code adoption:

1. Printers want to make more paper dirty, not less!
2. QR codes are unknown and not used.
3. QR codes are unreliable and unusable for the printing industry.

1. Printers want to make more paper dirty, not less!
Printers cannot afford to think like this anymore and need to provide additional value added services to their customers. By being innovative and offering more than just printed matter the printing industry can achieve a lot more. If these opportunities are seen as a threats and avoided, other industries who do see the opportunity will take it and work with it.

2. QR codes are unknown and not used.
That landscape is changing fast. QR codes are not new, they have been around since 1994, it is however only since 2009 that it has arroused a greater global public interest. This may be because the patent on this type of 2D barcode was declared for public use and the fact that it is already a proven techbology in Japan.

Trends QR Code
Looking at the trends for the search term 'qr code' it is clear that more and more people are interested in this technology and so the printing industry should be too. QR codes cannot be called an unknown technology for much longer!

3. QR codes are unreliable and unusable for the printing industry.
Here unfortunately the printing industry may have a valid point. QR codes are variable in size making it difficult to predict how much space they need on paper until the physical QR code is available. This is a real problem when dealing with printed matter like for example business cards. The question I get asked most often is...'How big must my QR code be to be printed properly?", the answer is never that simple and the advice seldom the same. A soltion to the 'unknown variable size' code, and many other related issues is to use dynamic QR codes. These codes are always the same size irrespective of the data volume or service type they point to,and ideal for corporate use on (as example) business cards but for anything else as well and can safely be used on printed matter without the underlying content being available or complete.
Not all printed matter is created alike and same goes for mobile phone cameras and reader software! So what works on one system does not mean it will work on all. Rule of thumb says the QR code should cover 80% of the camers view area and be in focus to work. So a QR code of 2cm by 2cm on a billboard of 10 by 6 meters will not be readable from 20 meters away. There are general guidelines for QR code sizes available for reference to get an idea of how big QR codes should be depending on the medium used.
Proprietary QR Codes may be one of the biggest reason consumers will not use QR codes. The reason is that to be able to read and interact with these codes a special unique reader application is required else it will not work. Use a reader from a competitor or any other "open standard" reader and the code is useless. After scanning a few of these types of codes and getting nowhere, consumers loose interest and faith in the technology. QR4 and it's partners believe in and only use 'Open Standard' QR codes, readable by all (except a few proprietary) QR code reader application available today. It does the printing industry and consumer markets good to use open standards and avoid the closed 'walled garden' 2D barcode systems on the market today. Besides self enriching financial intersts, they have nothing more of value to offer than systems based on free open QR codes. In fact these proprietary systems presently do the mobile scanning community more harm than good and we recommend they are avoided.

Need more information or examples of interactive printing or want to know more about dynamic reusable QR codes? Please contact us for more infomation on how industiral QR code processes can assist.

QR4 is maintained by - Geleenhof 42, 5655 AH Eindhoven - Tel: +31 (0)6 130 33 743