QR codes are still quite new in markets outside of Japan. While they are gaining popularity in Western markets, consumers are still baffled by the black and white, blocky patterns that they see on a growing number of products. At times, the codes have been criticized – by both consumers and businesses – for being unappealing to the eye. As the codes begin to play a more prominent role in marketing, companies are looking to make changes to their QR codes to make them more aesthetically pleasing.
It is difficult to introduce new visual elements into the structure of QR codes due to the fact that the code’s pattern contains digital information. If the pattern is eschewed, consumers will no longer be able to make then work. As companies become more comfortable with mobile technology, however, they are able to make changes to the codes without sacrificing their function. Companies like Target, Cadbury and Jack Daniels are taking a bold new approach to how QR codes work and how consumers interact with them.
Using augmented reality, these companies are transforming their codes into full-fledged virtual experiences. Essentially, the codes are serving as a marker that, when engaged by a smart phone, initiates an augmented reality display that interacts with consumers. This is being accomplished with the help of mobile apps such as Aurasma and Blippar, which bring augmented reality into the hands of consumers. Given that the apps do most of the work, the codes can be made to look more simplistic, enabling companies to embed their logos within the code’s design.