Today’s Technologies Advance Safety in the Mercedes-Benz


In world of growing QR code usage, Mercedes hops on the bandwagon with its newest models. An effort to deliver a safer driving experience, the code will record all vital signs of the vehicle upon the impact of a crash. When emergency respondents arrive at the scene, lag time will be significantly diminished by their immediate knowledge of the car’s condition and infrastructure in a moment “where every second matters” (PSFK).

From PSFK,

“The major point of concern here is that there is conflicting evidence as to how quickly people are adapting to the usage of QR codes, particularly because it is competing with other technological innovations like NFC. Mercedes’ investment in QR is a sign of their commitment to the platform, but we will need to wait and see how effective this initiative is in terms of saving lives.”

Why I’m Curious:

A respectable move, in my opinion, has been made by Mercedes-Benz in their effort of taking today’s digital tools and focusing them on something more pertinent than car amenities (i.e. entertainment or comfort). The integration of QR codes into our society has stood unimpressive at times when used solely for promotional efforts and couponing. I believe this type of usage gives QR codes a much better sense of purpose and showcases their true abilities.


Mobile self-checkout: Wal-Mart extends “scan-and-go” option to more stores

Wal-Mart has added its mobile self-checkout option at 40 Denver-area stores, after launching the first tests of the “scan-and-go” system at stores in four other markets. Shoppers use their smartphones to scan each product’s bar code as they fill their carts, then the application generates a QR code that’s scanned at self-payment kiosks.

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Read more here.

Mechanics: Scan & Go enables a shopper to scan the bar codes on products as she picks the products off shelves and puts them into her shopping cart. The app creates a list of all products scanned. When the shopper has completed shopping, she presses the Done Shopping button and the app generates a custom QR code. The self-checkout terminals scan the QR code on the smartphone, tally the list, and ask the shopper to select a payment option to complete the transaction at the terminal.

Wal-Mart has created a research group in Silicon Valley called @WalmartLabs tasked with developing ways to leverage social media and mobile devices to make shopping at Wal-Mart more appealing. Among the ideas company executives have discussed is posting signs in stores to let shoppers use their smartphones to contact store personnel for help and creating an in-store social network that would let consumers in a store communicate with each other via their mobile handsets.


QR Code Makes Shopping Easier

Seven Jeans started utilizing QR codes at their store in Seattle. Seven partnered with Hointer, a technology company that creates solutions men who don’t like shopping, to attempt to make shopping pain-free for men.

From Springwise,

Customers walking into the store are greeted by a floor that contains only one pair of each model of jeans available. The jeans are tagged with a QR code that – when scanned using the store’s bespoke app – delivers a pair in the chosen size to a fitting room in the store and alerts the customer which room to go to. Once the jeans have been tried, customers can either send the jeans back into the system or swipe their card using a machine in each fitting room to make a purchase.

Why I’m Curious

QR codes just won’t go away. At times they are used for mundane things, but then something like this example, that solve a problem and enhances an experience is useful for consumers. But I’m curious as to whether they really are just here to stay, and we need to think of innovative and cool ways to use them, or the perception is already established and we need to move onto the next thing.

Snap and share.

Oh, the QR code. So hyped, so misunderstood, so underwhelming. But people are still trying. Specifically, a newish service called TagMyDoc.

The idea behind TagMyDoc is to assign a QR code to a document, and allow others to scan the code on the document to download a copy. People can also then comment and follow your document from there. So rather than trying to track down email addresses and attaching wieldy documents, this service enables simple sharing and easy storage, granted everyone has a smartphone and a QR code reader.

Why I’m Curious

QR codes just won’t go away, will they? I’m neither here nor there around them, but I can get behind it when the QR code is used in a relevant, contextual way. But this begs the question: with services like Dropbox and Google Drive and Docs available, what’s the benefit of TagMyDoc?

Target’s Holiday QR Codes for Toys

via Engadget 

The holiday push is already here. Starting October 14th, Target will introduce QR codes for its top 20 toys. Customers can scan with their mobile device to purchase and have the gift shipped for free to any location in the US.

Target stores will have a special area highlighting 20 of the most sought-after toys tagged with QR codes for one-stop, secret mobile shopping. The program is being targeted at frazzled Moms and Dads who want to purchase presents for their children even when they’re shopping with them. Customers have to install the company’s app to scan the codes and opt-in for free shipping.

Why I’m Curious

When it comes to QR codes, there’s always so much talk about why they won’t last or how to make them cool again. I think Target’s approach to using QR codes for frazzled Moms and Dads is a great example that shows making a QR code relevant and interesting again.

QR Code Beer Bottles Help Singles Meet At The Bar

From PSFK:

Harry’s Bar in Singapore wanted to make it easier for shy locals to meet each other at the bar. They introduced ‘Bottle Message,’ adding QR code tags to beer bottles that let you enter a message when you scan them.

After you’ve written something for the person you like, flip the tag over, buy another beer, and place the tag over it. Then have it sent to that special someone so they read the message and you can start a conversation. This new communication tool caused beer sales to double at the bar. Check out the case study video below:

Why Am I Curious?

I keep coming across examples of digital tools and services that intend to use the medium for humanized experiences and/or to make personal connections. However, it is even more interesting when someone finds a rare intersection where digital, human connections and being able to sell your product collide which seems to be the case in this example. I am wondering which other brands will leverage this trend of “social pairing” to their advantage.

Can A Phone Charm Save Your Life?

From Mashable:

You know those kitschy phone charms you see all over Japan? Believe it or not, there are some charms that can actually save your life.

Asahi Kasei’s device, which measures 3 centimeters squared, is RFID-enabled and attaches to your cellphone just like a Hello Kitty charm. The device makes use of Sony’s “FeliCa” RFID technology, which is already used throughout Japan in mobile payment systems, such as Tokyo’s Suica subway pass.

The charm holds important medical information, including the user’s blood type, allergies and medical conditions. This handy information enables emergency medical personnel to obtain pertinent information that could influence treatment quickly and efficiently. For those with more extensive medical histories, X-rays and other large files can be saved on a secure server and linked to the charm for quick access.

Emergency room staff can simply tap the FeliCa reader to the patient’s phone charm and pull up relevant data on a screen. The charm isn’t yet available for commercial use, but is expected to hit shelves later this year with a price tag of $25.

Another high-tech way to carry medical records is via QR code, a technique co-opted by Code d’Urgence in France. To sign up, patients fill out a medical questionnaire that is validated by a doctor and sign up for a €36 annual subscription. Then, Code d’Urgence sends 10 stickers bearing unique QR codes for users to affix on various things such as a bike helmet, a wallet or a cell phone.

Using QR codes instead of RFID makes the technology more accessible, since many phones can operate as a QR-code reader and RFID readers aren’t as commonplace.

Why Am I Curious?

I think this is a great next step in the electronic medical records trend. While wearing a medical alert bracelet may seem like a simple enough solution to this issue, not everybody may want to wear their brief medical history on their sleeve – literally. Also, this is a very logical idea for people who may have an extended medical history and the information they need to carry with them is more than just their blood type and the foods they are allergic to. Taking this a step further, I wonder if there would be any imitations or hurdles to this technology being the way patients store their entire medical history as opposed to just emergency information and this way, even for a routine doctor visit, if a certain old report needs to be pulled up, significant hassle and time loss can be eliminated both for patients and doctors.

P&G And Walmart Let Customers Buy Products From a Truck

P&G and Walmart are bringing m-commerce to Chicago and New York in their latest marketing campaign. Utilizing the power of virtual pop-up stores and a food truck-esque mobile hub, the retailers are offering customers curb-side shopping and free delivery straight to their doorsteps. Their mobile truck can be tracked via its Twitter handle (@PGMobile) and users can scan the QR codes on the truck’s exterior to enjoy top CPG brands at Walmart’s “everyday low prices.”

Why I’m Curious: We have yet to see significant penetration of consumers purchasing CPG products online/through mobile. However, this initiative gives consumers a real reason to consider it. By concentrating on two urban markets (whose inhabitants don’t have access to Wal-Mart Prices and likely don’t own vehicles) and using a beloved concept (food truck anyone?) this initiative showcases innovation with a purpose.

Ritz Carlton Makes it Personal

Solidifying the notion that luxury knows no limits, luxury hotel group Ritz-Carlton debuted its long-awaited mobile app on May 1, giving luxury travelers easier access to the company’s portfolio of hotels around the world.

The booking engine and hotel room look up functionalities of the app are great but the app goes beyond being a booking engine and incorporates QR codes and location-based services. For example, the app includes personal tips from President & COO Herve Humler that identify the “hidden gems” guests shouldn’t miss when they check in (think: a Viennese crystal chandelier in Doha and a secret garden in Sanya), and offer personalized suggestions to guests based on location and duration of stay. Here are some interesting app features:

  • Insider information about each hotel
  • QR capability at 20 Ritz-Carlton hotels, allowing you can scan your mobile device when you check-in
  • GPS technology that allows the app to recognize when you’ve arrived at a Ritz-Carlton, and send you location specific advice, information and exclusive offers.
  • Integration with social media platforms including The Ritz-Carlton World Concierge global recommendations from Four Square
  • The ability to share your favorite Ritz-Carlton memory or experience in the ‘Let Us Stay With You’ section of the app.

Why Am I Curious?

We all know instant accessibility to information is a consumer expectation at this point but the real art is extending a particular brand into the digital space in a way that is meaningful and relevant to the consumer, and it is particularly difficult in the case of luxury consumers as it is difficult to stay true to core values of an organization and create premium experiences in the digital realm. I like the fact that Ritz Carlton gave thought into what may constitute relevant and useful for their brand and went beyond creating a simple utility app. Staying at a luxury hotel is all about creating an end to end premium experience that goes above and beyond what is required and this app extends this premium experience into the digital space and enriches the physical experience. It is not a requirement but a luxury.

I am so also curious about the further features that can be incorporated into the app to further enhance the luxury traveler experience. For example, currently, the app doesn’t gather any further information about the guest beyond his or her location, but if the app can identify the guests, Ritz Carlton can have access to a plethora of valuable information on the guests, and surprise and delight them on the spot based on previous stays, like/dislikes and provide a truly customized experience without the guest even asking for one.

A QR Code People Actually Want to Use

Think it’s impossible to create a QR Code that people actually want to use? Not quite. South Korea’s Emart noticed sales decreased around lunchtime, so they needed a way to entice people to shop between noon and 1 pm. Cheil Worldwide (the same people behind the Dunkin’ Donuts flavor radio and Tesco subway shopping) came up with ‘Sunny Sale,’ a shadow-activated QR code which is only scannable when the sun is at it’s peak in the sky, or 12-1PM.

People that scanned the code received a special promotion and coupon to use at the store or online. The results? 12K coupons were issued during the promotion, new Emart membership increased by 58% and in-store sales increased by 25% during lunch hour.  (more at Adverblog)

Why I’m Curious

I’m pretty sure I would even scan this QR code. The shadow-activated design is cool enough to attract people’s attention. Since it’s only scannable during 12-1pm, Sunny Sale does a good job of reducing the “why is this stupid QR code here?” factor. The idea for this campaign is simple, but it does a great job of existing within the context that people will actually continue onto the shopping experience. Especially with the added bonus of coupons and discounts. It also seems like there’s lots of opportunity for other versions of this retail experience that hooks people in with a not too gimmicky trick, and gets them right where they need to be to purchase (kind of like the speedy “World’s Fastest Purchase” from Puma). Next up, glow-in-the-dark QR code?

HarperCollins Brings Book to Life

To bring to life the story of Canadian author Kenneth Oppel‘s new young adult novel “This Dark Endeavour” — a Gothic thriller about the early life of Victor Frankenstein — the Canadian arm of HarperCollins teamed with Dentsu to develop a mobile QR/AR campaign to drive in-store activity and online engagement.

The novel’s target audience was the preteen and teenage girls, ages 12 to 17, a demographic well-known for being mobile savvy.

With that in mind, Dentsu Canada has created a mobile app to engage the core audience of the book. The free app, available from the Android Market, utilizes the new marker-less marker technology, through which natural images can trigger animation.

In this instance, book shelf installations, one of the core motifs in the book, placed through Indigo,Chapters and Coles chain bookstores around Canada led to the discovery of an ancient text in a secret library – also a common theme in the book. Users scanned the shelf to find the hidden book, thereby unlocking information about the novel’s plot and characters.

Posters in the stores contained instructions for how to download the app. Printed bookmarks directed those without smartphones to an associated website.

After the app’s release, the author saw a 25% rise in traffic to his website. Book sales increased by 45% compared to the week before the campaign’s launch.

Why Am I Curious?

This is the first time i am reading about the use of this sort of AR technology and i think this technology would lend itself well to many different campaigns for the mobile and technology savvy audiences.

It is also very promising to see the results the app has led to. Normally, these type of mobile applications’ ROI tend to be traced only at the engagement and sentiment level but in this instance, it is possible to see the direct sales volume lift this app has led to. I hypothesize that the return on this app would be much longer lasting as it ten

Touchcode Adds an Invisible Layer of Interactivity

OK, so most of us are sick of QR codes – they’re ugly, require smartphone users to open an app to scan them, and most of the time they’re unnecessary. Which is why a new German app called Touchcode, is all the more interesting.

Touchcode is printed on paper and doesn’t affect the design of printed materials at all – but with just a touch to a smartphone, it reveals digital materials. It works like this:

“Touchscreen devices with a Touchcode-enabled app loaded can automatically read the information embedded in the printed material by placing their device against it. The invisible material then interacts with the device’s touchscreen by acting like fingers typing out a code for the app to read, according to a report on Laptop Magazine. The material can be printed on several types of media, including paper, carton or foil, and can enable access to digital content within a Touchcode-enabled app or online. ” (more at Springwise)

Why I’m Curious

As there are increasing more apps to content the ‘real world’ with digital content, this app seems to useful – it doesn’t affect the design of a product or material (unlike our old friend the QR code) and it’s extremely easy to use since touch of the phone does all the work. There are lots of interesting application possibilities: recipes on packaged goods, extra content in magazines or on toys, extra goodies on tickets, and more (most of which are laid out in the interactive YouTube video above). Plus since Touchcode is invisible it could be really great to use for scavenger-hunt style competitions or to reveal ‘golden ticket’ winners.

MasterCard Debuts QkR, its mobile payment system

MasterCard, like its competitors Amex and Visa, is continuing play in the mobile payment game.  Its latest offering is called QkR, an Australian pilot in partnership with the Hoyts chain of movie theaters and Commonwealth Bank. Customers will be able to order and pay for food and beverages right from their seat by scanning the QR code or taping the NFC tag attached to their arm rest. A staff member then delivers your giant popcorn and soda right to your seat (and you don’t have to worry about missing the previews/not getting a seat).

Why I’m Curious:

We’ve been instructed to turn off our cell phones in movie theaters for several years now…but MasterCard has found a way to bring them back in a way that provides value for the theater, the consumer, and of course, themselves. The intersection of entertainment, food, and mobile will be one to continue to watch (i.e: did you see the Foursquare/Amex/Pizza Hut partnership for the Superbowl?).

2-for-1 Travel with QR Code Activation

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) launched a 2-for-1 promotional campaign targeting couples. Knowing that couples often book their flights together while sitting down with each other, they created a video that needed to be scanned by both people. SAS split the campaign video in half and asked individuals to scan two unique QR codes simultaneously on their smartphones in order to play the video. The two smartphones had to be touching side-by-side for the video to make sense and for the complete promotional code to be seen.

The ‘Couple Up To Buckle Up’ campaign was also promoted in print ads and also on Facebook. The clever campaign successfully ensured that during the campaign week, every ticket available was sold out.

Why I’m Curious:

This is a nice use of QR code technology that actually leverages an existing behavior.  This activation not only provides

JC Penney QR Code Gift Tags

As part of a multi-channel holiday campaign including digital, mobile and social elements, JC Penney has brought the traditional holiday gift tag into the 21st century. Customers who buy a gift at one of their stores this holiday season will receive a free QR code tag (or Santa Tag) with their purchase. Using any QR code reader, they can scan the code to record and attach a personal voice message up to a minute in length. The recipient of the gift can then scan the tag to receive the affixed voice message. The QR code promotion is one aspect of JC Penney’s “Who’s Your Santa!” advertising campaign which also includes a Facebook game kicking off on November 28th.Why I’m Curious:We’ve bemoaned the QR code and its over/misuse for quite some time now. But it looks like various retailers (from eBay to Sears to Tesco) are using this technology to truly provide an incremental value to their customers. The latest uses we’ve seen of QR codes demonstrate that they can be used effectively if the context/situation and payoff/content come together.

The Death of QR Codes?

– Jordan

QR codes are boring, unattractive and usually are not worth the effort, but what if you could turn the 2D magazine page into a 3D digital experience.

Tesco among a few other brands are utilizing Blippar to Aurasma create more engaging print content. These apps turn a normal ad or specified image into an augmented reality experience, adding animation, gaming and clickable links straight from your smartphone or tablet.

Why I’m curious:

Many people believed that the QR code was going to be a big hit, but a majority of the public doesn’t even know what they are or even how to use them.

Im curious about this particular use of augmented reality because it could be a replacement for those unattractive black and white boxes (QR codes). This makes 2D content linked to the digital world while also making it a more engaging experience than simply snapping a picture of a QR code just to be redirected to the company’s home page. Plus, there are so many new creative ways that you can use this, such as creating a massive interactive augmented reality experience on the outside of a building.

With a much more engaging app and experience, could this augmented reality app be the end of QR Codes?

Showtime: Too much to ask for getting exclusive content?

I just got the September issue of Wired. A Showtime ad captured my attention. The ad invites readers to 1. download an app, 2. Scan the ad, 3. search through this issue, and 4. watch carefully. Too much to ask? Perhaps. Yet, I followed the steps and got access to some videos.

App’s description: Delve into the world of Homeland. Use the camera to augment intelligence in the September issue of Wired magazine. Remain on alert for additional communiqués, and be among the firWst to view a secret screening.

Why I’m Curious:

I am less interested about the contents of this ad, and more about its mechanics. Some may say QR codes offer two unique things that we were not able to achieve with URLs: 1. the ability to scan an image to access additional content without the need to get in front of a computer and type in a URL, and 2. the need to remember URLs for accessing content at a later time.

Well, Showtime’s is pretty memorable to me (note the use of “.ly”). Plus, it can be scanned to preview the next season of “Dexter”.

Watch an ad on TV, get a free Pepsi


The concept: TV Check-in App IntoNow Downloads Coupon to Phone in Exchange for Watching

Here is how it works: Consumers download the iPhone check-in app IntoNow and hit it while the commercial plays on TV. Audio-fingerprinting technology then recognizes the ad and a coupon gets downloaded to your phone for a free 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi Max.

The technology knows not only what consumers are watching, but also if they’re watching it live or delayed on a DVR or some other kind of recording device. It will even work on the YouTube clip of the ad (so go ahead and give it a whirl).

That transaction then gets shared out to the user’s connections on the social TV app, as well as to Facebook and Twitter.

IntoNow has an audience already tagging TV shows — 3million tags and 600,000 downloads since the app was launched in January.

IntoNow is not the first to give consumers a reason to check in to TV commercials. Shazam, the original audio-tagging service for the iPhone, powered a giveaway where the first 1,000 users that tagged an original song during an Old Navy TV ad got a free pair of jeans. The music video spent several weeks on Ad Age’s Viral Video Chart due to its popularity on the web.

Case Study: Pepsi has agreed to honor as many as 50,000 such coupons as an experiment in both driving trial of Pepsi Max, as well as the potential for interactive TV ads – The Pepsi Max spot features a “Field of Dreams” theme and many major league baseball players past and present. The spot, already on YouTube, will air during MLB games and through the end of the year.

Why I’m Curious:

Interesting way to engage passive TV watchers, evaluate effectiveness of creative and leverage mobile technology to drive trial.

This iteration asks a lot of consumers, and is a bit clunky.  But it will be interesting to see how this trend evolves as QR code readers and other Near Field Communication tools are integrated into standard mobile OS, eliminating the need for consumers to download apps in order to interact with branded content.

Volvo’s QR Banner Drives to Branded Game App


The Volvo banner featured in this post caught my eye because it actually uses a QR code in digital paid media to drive to a mobile app so that users can play a branded game. My immediate reaction was first one of skepticism, because it felt unnecessary to deliver an interactive experience in mobile, when a user is already on their computer. Digging a little deeper, it makes a bit more sense when I think about the number of mobile programs that I’ve seen clients develop without having a promotional strategy in place. The digital media / QR approach is actually quite innovative if you have a client that’s looking to promote their mobile experience for the right reasons.

Assessing the payoff:

If you’re going to invest in driving people to an app, you have to assess how much value you place on app downloads and whether they’re likely to engage with the app once versus many times. In the Volvo example, is it worth the spend when you’re getting users to download a branded app that they may use only once or twice? For branded apps that are more utility driven, and thus, used more than once and for a longer term, investing in app promotional strategy may show a much higher ROI.

Interestingly, it appears Volvo often goes for the innovation angle. Being the first to do something new has always had PR and buzz value. Further, if it’s untested, you can usually negotiate for more value-add in the media deal. The big take away here is that innovation entails more risk in advertising, but it can also spark more value, buzz and positive perception than playing it safe all the time. Obviously, the risk assessment always needs to be calculated – but can pay off in the end.