Friday, January 25, 2013

RIP QR Codes –why code-based scanning will give way to image recognition for mobile apps

Two quicks facts to kick things off: QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) were not designed for mobile advertising. They were created by the automotive industry to track vehicles as they flowed through the logistics chain.

While a significant advance at the time (1994) because they improved the scanning effectiveness (compared to barcodes) and could hold 100 times more data, today QR codes draw mixed reactions from consumers and developers alike.

According to Comscore’s survey of December 2011, only 20% of Americans use QR codes (this drops to 12% in Spain). The bottom line is that QR codes are not practical for average consumers to use and they are not the best way  for advertisers to connect with their customers.

Ever tried scanning a QR Code? You will need both a steady hand and some trial and error in finding the best angle for scanning. You will also need to find a Code Scanner app and download it to your phone, as well as to know how to use it! The barriers are significant. Not to mention the fact that QR codes can be hacked for malicious purposes, as happened in Russia.

The new way of recognizing images within adverts (in posters, magazine ads or on packaged goods) is by Image Recognition. Catchoom (based in Spain) is leading the way in this, using a Cloud-based recognition system to achieve image matching in under 0.5 seconds. The user simply points their smartphone’s camera at the image (for example, a logo), Catchoom processes the information with its patented image recognition algorithms, and hey presto! In less than a second, you get a weblink, an image or a video appearing on the phone screen. Compared to QR Codes, the technology really kicks ass, because what are known as “false positives” are vastly reduced. This means, around 99% of users pointing at an image to be recognized will get a perfect match and see the information the publisher has created.

The future has arrived...RIP QR codes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Augmented Reality –5 Reasons why AR will triumph in 2013 and beyond

According to the Chinese calendar, 2013 is the Year of the Snake, a year where “all things are possible”.

It should come as no surprise that 2013 is also tipped to be a big year for Augmented Reality (AR), where the range of possibilities for this technology should truly come to life. AR is already going beyond the traditional gimmicky gaming use cases and has started to transform how we consume printed media, interact with museum exhibits and advertise via smartphones and tablets.

Here are five reasons why AR will grow even more in 2013:

1. Smartphones’ processing power has increased dramatically, with quad core 1.5GHz+ processors becoming more commonplace and tipped to represent 15%-20% of the market in 2013

2. Growth of the market share of tablets (and the high degree of user engagement with them). There are an estimated 240m tablets in use (according to NPD DisplaySearch). AR works beautifully on tablets thanks to the large display area and will help to "cross-sell" AR to smartphones as well.

3.The majority of readers consume news and media content in digital format today but still enjoy interacting with printed news and magazines via their smartphone. The easiest way to do so today is through AR. Esquire magazine already tried this in 2009. Ikea Germany's 2013 catalogue allows readers to view 3D animations of furniture items and so bring flat-pack to life.

4.We have just only begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities for augmented reality-type innovations. From advertising to property management and the healthcare sector, the use cases for AR are infinite. In healthcare, for example, being able to recognize skin diseases by simply pointing the smartphone’s camera at the affected skin area would by itself save millions in public healthcare costs (not to mention, save lives).

5. Mobile gaming is huge. So huge in fact, that the traditional console-based gaming sector will soon be overtaken by mobile-based gaming. We are no longer talking gimmicks. We are talking of a USD 20bn$ industry. Augmented reality gaming is carving out a good chunk of this revenue –even Angry Birds has its own AR-based mobile game. More will follow.