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Scanlife Enables QR Code Reading on Any Camera Phone, Confirming QR's Future

QR ScanlifeQR codes are popular elsewhere in the world, and catching on in the U.S., but one barrier to common use is the need for a special app on a smartphone to read them. Not a problem now, as even dumbphones can do the trick.

The "Scan and Send" system comes from Scanlife, as an additional service to the barcode-reading and QR-code decoding smartphone apps the company already supplies. Now all you have to do is grab a pic of a QR code (or regular 2-D barcode) with your dumbphone's camera, and MMS it to a special number. Scanlife's computers recognize and decode the image, then SMS the details back to you as a weblink... which you can automatically open in a browser if you're using a featurephone, or email on to yourself for later perusal.

The system works via MMS in the U.S. but you can also email the codes if you're outside the country. Scanlife notes it built the system thanks to demand from a "growing number of non-smartphone users who wanted in on the fun" and estimates that even while some 20 million U.S. citizens already have 2-D barcode readers on their smartphones, the new system increases the company's reach by "35% in a single" stroke.

Though Scanlife's system works with QR codes, single-dimension UPC codes, and other 2-D codes like Datamatrix, it does confirm one thing to us: QR codes are here to stay, at least for a while. Eventually they'll probably be superseded by cheap, ubiquitous NFC-enabled stickers on products and devices which can communicate much more data than a barcode can. But while significant numbers of people still own featurephones, not even smartphones, systems like "scan and send" may well boost QR codes into the mainstream when they're used for things like loyalty point markers in your favorite coffee shop.

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    I agree with Lance. While many of us are hopeful that the smartphone adoption rate will continue to grow as expected, there will always be a segment of the population that uses standard mobile phones.

    One thing that this article should emphasize is the importance of mobile sites for marketing products and services to this group of consumers. Although smartphone users can zoom in and at least attempt to utilize existing websites, older mobile phones require a simpler platform optimized for their smaller screens.

    It's great that Scanlife is providing the tools for QR codes, but companies seeking to optimize their sites for mobile devices should contact firms that specialize in mobile content development such as Barcode Publicity.

  • Lance A. Schart

    Finally; JagTag (@JAGTAGINC) and Clic2C (@CLIC2C) have been doing this for more than a year. Hopefully retailers and marketers will get the idea that #QRCodes are a meaningful and significant new tool to market directly to consumers (indoor, outdoor, print, film, gaming, etc.)

    Lance A. Schart
    Chicago, IL USA