QR codes made out of cobblestones draw the world’s attention to Portugal

QR Codes in cobblestone

Mcommerce barcode made out of black and white stones were worked into the pavement.

The Portuguese pavement, the calçada portuguesa, which is a traditional style of pedestrian walkway in the country, now includes a modern mcommerce feature, as QR codes were worked in with cobblestones.

Though this technique may have been used for hundreds of years, the barcode adds a modern twist.

The new QR codes have been worked into the sidewalk in Chiado, Lisbon. It is quite beautiful and artistic, but tremendously sensitive to the light in terms of its function with smartphones. This mcommerce barcode was painstakingly created by artisans who know how to shape the stones by hand and carefully place them into position to form a highly specific design.

The each element of the QR codes was tapped into shape with hammers and stones.

In order to create the necessary contrast, limestone was used for the white background, while basalt provided the black squares that form the design of the barcode. Though the design is fully functional, and can be scanned with a smartphone, it is important to note that it is virtually impossible to successfully scan the pattern when it is in bright or direct sunlight. The reflection of light off the stones eliminates the necessary contrast that scanning apps seek when attempting to snap the image.

Though this limits the use of this piece of artwork, when the QR codes are in shadow a simple snap of a smartphone directs the user to tourist information that is available in both Portuguese and English.

It hasn’t yet been determined whether or not the designers of the QR codes were aware that the surface would be highly reflective and would therefore cause issues in the scanning process. It isn’t known whether or not the appearance of the barcode and its ability to complement its surroundings was more important than its functionality. This is, however, a lesson that is being learned all too often by marketers in mcommerce, as they discover that their bright ideas only make scanning impossible in certain circumstances. Equally, tourists will still be able to use the 2d barcode for information, provided the sun isn’t too bright.

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