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The Rise and Success of QR Codes in London

Tourism | No comments

par James Whiting | 01.18.12

Innovative adaptations of QR codes in London have made visiting this popular tourist destination easier, with London attractions available at the touch of your smart phone. QR code apps are available for Android, iPhone and several other mobile platforms.
QR codes have been around quite some time, but new innovations are making these patterned matrix codes ubiquitous rather than unusual. QR stands for Quick Response, a two-dimensional coded matrix (2D code) that contains data encrypted both horizontally and vertically. QR codes can support more information than a simple bar code. Because the codes can be read from any direction, data is instantly retrievable without background noise.

Developed in Japan in 1994 by Denso Wave as easily readable scanner code, QR codes today can be read by enabled mobile phones for myriad uses. Codes display text, provide addresses and link to the Internet. QR codes are used in lieu of tickets for travel, theatres and events, are encrypted on passports, and allow users to enter a website or make purchases from their mobile phones. Posters and brochures for London attractions with QR codes link users to related tourism information.


Carnaby's QR code

QR codes are no longer grey-scale cubes. Designer matrices include colour and graphic images. Some are created in the shape of the attraction like castles and bridges, while others take the shape of animals or objects. A multi-colour QR code was designed for the popular London attraction, the Carnaby shopping area. Each colour represents a section of the multi-block area. Users who scan the code are linked to the Carnaby Essential Guide, which identifies streets, restaurants, pubs and shops. Users don’t have to carry cumbersome maps and brochures; instead, their mobiles provide information and navigation.


QR code il Kew Gardens, London

The Radisson Edwardian Hotels use QR codes as part of the dining experience, providing graphic and video representations of menu items and food preparation. Kew Gardens has adapted the codes to provide links to videos and detailed information about the plants and heritage of the site.

Altitude 360 London, a restaurant on the 29th floor of the Millbank Tower, Westminster, features a panoramic view of London. Images of famous landmarks seen from its windows contain QR codes, allowing patrons to scan the codes and link to the corresponding Wikipedia Web page.

Museums are using the codes to enhance displays and provide additional information to visitors. At the Museum of London, QR codes are placed next to each exhibit. When scanned, short films relevant to each exhibit are uploaded.

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London, presented its first QR code-based exhibition, “Myth, Migration and Egyptomania.” The Grant Museum of Zoology, also part of University College London, is one of the oldest natural history museums in England, dating to 1827. It has placed iPads next to several displays to encourage interactive exchange and discussions about the museum and its exhibits. Visitors can use the iPads or their own smart phones. Both museums participate in the QRator project, which uses digital technology to connect the public directly to the objects in the museums’ collections.

QR codes will be used for marketing, live displays, publications and websites for planning and execution of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A colourful designer QR code serves as both a mobile app logo and an information portal.

This article has been written by Visit London, the official tourism website of London.

Photos credits: Annie Mole & Ephoz - FlickrNow and next in retail

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