You know a new technology is a hit when it makes an appearance in Times Square. That’s just what happened to the Quick Response (QR) code one day early last summer. In celebration of Internet Week 2010, the City of New York put up the giant 2D codes on the sides of buildings right in the heart of midtown Manhattan. When passers-by raised their smartphones and scanned them, they gained instant access to various city agencies in a promotion called “The City at Your Fingertips.”
New York isn’t the only place you’ll find super-sized 2D codes, however. In a popular Japanese shopping district, a building’s entire façade is layered with one, which the public can scan for up-to-the-minute information about the shops in the area.
Now that’s smart technology.
Where else might you find these helpful icons? Because they come in every conceivable size, they’ve shown up on everything from business cards to clothing to the sides of garbage trucks. Even Facebook, that arbiter of all things Internet, is embracing the technology, and I’m proud to say that Ocala Style is now as well. We decided to unveil Microsoft’s 2D code, which is called the Microsoft Tag and boasts more features than the QR code, in the pages of this issue because when I think about our heart-pounding theme, it’s exactly these kinds of monumental changes to our industry that get my heart racing. These tiny, colorful, seemingly indecipherable boxes have the potential to change your reading experience in real and meaningful ways.
Sprinkled throughout the issue, these small icons are portals to exclusive content, from up-to-date information and extra savings from advertisers to instant access to our Facebook page for reader feedback. Above all, they provide added value and convenience to everyone who picks up our magazine.
So what exactly is a Microsoft Tag? In the simplest terms, it’s a barcode with an encoded URL. But in more poetic terms—at least for the magazine industry—it’s a bridge between the print and online worlds. Since the dawn of the Internet, spanning this divide has been publishing’s greatest challenge. That day has finally come, and the future uses of 2D codes are scarcely imaginable. It’s safe to say, at the very least, that we will be living with them for a very long time.
The best part about the Microsoft Tag is that the application needed to scan it, the Microsoft Tag Reader, is free to download on your smartphone. Furthermore, the boom in popularity of the tag and other 2D codes comes at a time when smartphone use is also on its way up. According to recent data published by Nielsen, half of all mobile phone subscribers will become smartphone users this year. By the end of 2011, the study predicted 142.8 million total smartphone users.
If this is your first introduction to 2D codes, you might soon find yourself looking more closely for them. And be prepared to start seeing them everywhere. We’re proud to be among the first companies in Ocala to implement them, and we’re prouder still that this will heighten and expand your reading experience.
Until next time,