Although QR codes only came into mass awareness recently when the first code readers hit mobile phones in 2010, their popularity may have already peaked. Once the shiny new gimmick for pulling consumers in with the promise of special promotions and content, users have found the offerings less than thrilling, often just directing an excited consumer right back to a basic Web page. When you thought you were going to get a super special secret 95 percent discount, the reality of pinching and stretching your phone screen just to read a press release is more than disappointing. Even Microsoft (News - Alert) sees the writing on the wall, recently abandoning its QR code competitor Tag system.
Or perhaps standardization was the problem, as noted by one Forbes writer. While your cell phone comes loaded with apps for maps, Web browsing and even weather, “What is not included on any platform (Android, iPhone (News - Alert) or Windows) is a built-in QR code scanner. For that matter, there is not one default go-to scanner in any respective app store, either.” The third-party scanners you can download for free are often bloated with ads. I know I’ve probably downloaded a QR scanner three times, deleting it along with other “unnecessary” apps when my phone memory gets full. I only use it when I’m really interested in something, and have never been pleasantly surprised by what I get from the scan.
Oyokey – a company name derived from the phrase “Own Your Own Keywords” – may have hit upon the right alternative to QR codes with their new kiTag. Structured in a format of keyword#yourdomain.com, kiTags look familiar, transparent and relevant. If a kiTag says labordaycoupons#grocery.com the user knows exactly what they’re going to get. And having made the jump from Twitter (News - Alert) to Facebook, hashtags are the new black these days so users are comfortable with the format. (Most users; there are still plenty of boomers who wonder why the pound sign is suddenly so popular.)
Oyokey’s founder, Nitin Anand, has a simple philosophy behind the creation of kiTags, “2D Barcodes or QR codes were meant for machines to talk to machines; people should not be exposed to barcodes to trigger information." He continues, "Other recognition technologies like Mobile Visual Search are effective but are difficult to scale up to ongoing, multiple campaign marketing programs or extensive corporate digital document projects."
One seed investor also notes that QR codes are cold and untrustworthy by nature; digital language is not meant to be understood by consumers. Because kiTags are text-based they can be shared verbally, or in print materials. Similar to Twitter hashtags, they can easily direct a crowd to a marketing offering or information.
QR codes aren’t just for coupons though; companies do still use them for internal asset tracking and retrieval, the purpose they were created for in the mid-1990s. Oyokey has that covered as well with a Corporate Digital Asset Tagging Retrieval System. It will remain to be seen if transitioning from a current bar or QR code system, which might require replacing dedicated scanners, is worth it to companies.
Oyokey has a kiTag reader so a tag can be scanned, but they will also be searchable by type or voice. The reader can be downloaded now on Android (News - Alert) and you can use it search more information by entering products#oyokey.com.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson