Rather than lugging around a pocketful of business cards, the CEO and co-founder of a Calgary-based startup called QR Zap carries his on the face of his cowboy hat. No, he doesn’t pin an old-fashioned card to his hat. He sticks a QR code – the box-shaped barcode that can be scanned by the cameras on most mobile smartphones – onto his hat and encourages people he meets to take a picture of it with their smartphones. When they do, it directs them to his website.
While QR codes have become increasingly popular in recent years, Bentley says that few of the companies that use them have done so with much creativity. For his part, he continues to work with marketers to help companies use the technology more effectively. In fact, he says, he even dreams about new ways to display the black and white dots. “It’s experimental,” he says. “We’re using a new technology in a new situation with the general public. So it takes willing and creative partners from the commercial side.”
Case in point: in December, Bentley worked closely with Melrose Café and Bar, a popular restaurant on Calgary’s 17th Avenue, to develop a contest. Visitors could scan a QR code on Christmas cards distributed by restaurant servers for a chance to win a tablet computer.
The company has also worked with a local rock band, Bloom, to help it generate some publicity. “We took their code and dropped it in a stylistic way into their logo,” Bentley says. “Once we thought it looked really nice, we put it out via Twitter.” Over the course of a single weekend, the code, which directs people to Bloom’s website, was scanned as far away as Saudi Arabia and Thailand.
Bentley says he has fresh ideas for 2012, but won’t divulge what they are. Unveiling new ways to present QR codes, he says, is part of the fun.
Scan the QR codes below to see some unusual examples
QR code hotel, Dubai
A hotel shaped like a QR code is being considered in Dubai’s Studio City. From the street, the exterior walls of the hotel would form enormous QR codes from each angle.
QR code birthday cakes
In the rush to blow out the candles on your birthday cake, don’t forget to snap a picture of the chocolate-sprinkle-formed QR code for a special birthday message. Chocolate sprinkles on a vanilla frosting background easily form a celebratory QR code.
QR code tattoos
Karl Marc, a Paris-based tattoo artist, broadcast his work over the Internet in June 2011 as he inked a QR code onto a client’s skin. He drew the QR code inside a larger image and allowed Facebook users to comment on his work as it happened.