QR Codes and NFC – Their Place in Social Media
QR Codes, the two dimensional barcodes that originated in Japan, have been everywhere this past year and unless you have been living under a rock you are bound to have seen them and more than likely used them to receive data in some form. There’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not QR codes are all they’re cracked up to be, or just a flash in the pan. They have come a long way, and more accurate scanners have improved the situation. Personally, I’m a believer; I think they are a great advancement in data distribution. In grocery stores, the classic USB barcode, the QR code’s one dimensional equivalent has a limited ability to hold information. The two-dimensional QR code ; enable much greater data storage than a bar code. As we’ve seen over the last year specifically, many marketers utilize QR codes in their campaign strategies and store information from something as simple as a web address redirect, to image file downloads in their codes. Though these have numerous benefits to businesses and webmasters, there have been security concerns that must be taken into account when creating and linking codes, but that’s for another day.
Denso Wave created the first QR code in 1994 for the auto giant Toyota. In 2004, Sony, Philips, and Nokia jointly took the next step and created the Near Field Communication (NFC) Forum. NFC is the process in which two devices share and exchange data over a wireless connection by being in close range of each other. Many cell phones have been designed with NFC chips in the hopes that they will eventually be used like debit or credit cards for point of sale transactions. A very good example of this is the Google Wallet mobile app which securely stores your credit card details and tailored offers on your phone. When you check out at brick-and-mortar stores that accept Google Wallet, you can pay and redeem offers quickly just by tapping your phone at the point of sale. Also for online shopping, Google Wallet online service stores your credit cards in the cloud. When you checkout at online merchants that accept Google Wallet, you can quickly pay by signing into your Google Wallet account.
The rise in mCommerce will only make NFC take off more successfully. With most new phones incorporating NFC chips built in and ready to go, we are simply waiting for retailers, marketers and advertisers to come up with the practical applications before we start using it day-to-day. By 2013, the tech researcher’s Gartner estimate that more people will be accessing the web via their mobile devices than from PCs. The company believes that there will be 1.78 billion PCs in use that year, outstripped by the 1.82 billion install base of smartphones and browser-equipped feature phones.
In the US, over 60% of mobile web page views are to social network sites. Social networks are much more page view intense than average web sites. So how are new technologies such as Near Field Communications going to be used within social media? Facebook pretty much own the online social graph and despite some smart marketing campaigns and the launch of Facebook Places, you get the feeling there’s much more real-world social networking to come.
A company called Deeplocal has put something together that shows how there could be huge potential in this area. It is called the ‘likebelt’ and essentially, it lets you carry out regular Facebook actions like checking in and adding friends in the real world by simply thrusting your hips. Yes, you did read that correctly, thrusting your hips. It could be argued that the hip action is a little scary and you may get yourself into hot water for doing it in a public place, but you can see how with a little refining, this could really take off. The Likebelt uses NFC technology and even though you can tell the company only really did this as a bit of a publicity stunt, it does show where we could be headed in the future if chips were placed in popular locations like restaurants, cafes and shops.
This is using the exact same technologies as many of the new mobile payment systems like Google Wallet. The facebook likebelt is not on the market, and although it seems a little unorthodox, I would definitely expect to see more refined versions of this technology in the near future.