Entries in Technology (33)


CES 2011

Consumer Electronics Show, Las VegasThis past week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas there was a great deal of fanfare surrounding 3D TVs, and tablets, tablets everywhere but none that you can actually buy. However, this focus on flat screen 3D and Android tablets overshadowed other innovations on display.

My favorite little show stealer was a manufacturer of modular robotic parts (and the software to run them) named RoboBuilder. They have both consumer grade and professional product lines for their modular parts. They are seeking a wholesale partner to bring their consumer product to the US market. Their little guy is very reminiscent of Plen, the Japanese “hobby” Robot famous for skateboarding and roller-skating. While the Japanese have a deep cultural connection and are generally recognized as the world leader in robotic toys, this Korean native just became my favorite new entry into the hobbyist robot market.

Also of note, eyewear made a strong showing at this years convention, particular in award recognition. For instance, Vuzix took honors in the CES Innovation Awards for their Raptyr 3D Augmented Reality glasses. Though I don’t have any video of them to share at this time, stay tuned, Vuzix will be our headlining guest at ARNY - Augmented Reality New York, in February.

Polaroid hit it out of the ballpark. The business arrangement between Lady Gaga and Polaroid was negotiated by Hollywood talent agency, William Morris Endeavor, and Polaroid’s PR Agency, Weber Shandwick. This has proven a stroke of brilliance. The rumors of Polaroid’s death have been greatly exagerated. After the rise of digital photography took their core automatic camera business down in flames, Polaroid has made various attempts at rebirth over the past decade, twice under new ownership and management (and twice filed for bankruptcy). In its current incarnation, PLR IP Holdings has created new value for the brand by developing their own stable of halo products, while leveraging their brand equity with licensing deals to other manufactures. It is a little known fact that Polaroid first made its name in polarized sunglasses (hence the name Polaroid). Their big move back into sunglasses and designer polarized-lens eyewear for 3D TV viewing was very smart; with a legitimate historical connection to the brand. Bringing in Lady Gaga to introduce the brand to a new generation — and giving her a contributing role in their product line beyond mere spokesperson — has been positively brilliant. Polaroid commanded serious mindshare at CES, and their Polarez GL20 Camera Glasses, to be sold under the Polaroid Grey Label and unveiled at CES by Lady Gaga herself, were a show stealer. I’m enthusiastic to see where Polaroid goes from here, they’re going to be an exciting brand to watch.

I would personally like to thank Jon Pollock for giving me a private viewing of the GL20 glasses, where I made the above video, as they were not on display to the public. I would also like to thank Colleen Sarenpa who was so helpful and informative. Thank you both, you’re doing a great job reviving a legendary brand.

If you find that Lady Gaga’s video glasses need some complimentary trousers to complete your cyborg wardrobe, you can go for Cyberdyne’s HAL exoskeleton. CES saw this Japanese firm’s first exhibit here in the states. Though the torso component (not shown in the video) enables the wearer to effortlessly lift many times their own weight, the legs are principally being marketed as a mobility option for the handicapped (I cobbled together my video from the glimpses I was able to snatch when Spike TV showed up. I was actually the only person there at Cyberdyne’s booth when Spike unexpectedly arrived. A crowd formed rather instantly. I’ve tried to find Spike’s coverage of this, but it appears they never published it to their website. Perhaps it ran on their cable station).

I must concede that my poor video does not do Arial Burton’s technology justice. The glass enclosure is not needed, but I believe it is a safety issue (don’t want to blind anyone with a laser). The device uses a focused laser in such a way that it naturally terminates in a “plasma spark” in midair. This plasma spark creates the “pixel” in the air. This will be an interesting technology to keep an eye on. They’ve more than tripled the resolution in the last year, and will likely do it again next year. They also tell me that they plan to launch a full color version “soon.”

Of the various video goggles on display at CES, the Recon goggles made for snow-sports were the most practical. Giving a heads-up view of important statistics while barreling downhill, they aim to introduce models catering to other goggle and helmet wearing sports over the course of the next year. Their execution is well thought out, their build quality in solid, and they are delivering on a genuine desire in the market for a quality device to deliver location based data while moving downhill. This information may all already be present in a user’s smartphone, but that is not a form factor with practical application in the context of a downhill run.


Sid Gabriel Hubbard

A video conference interview with Sid Gabriel Hubbard.

Sid Gabriel Hubbard is a San Francisco based augmented reality software developer, and organizer of ARDevMob, the largest of three Bay Area AR meetup groups. He also practices Tai Chi.


You can hack it.

Microsoft has a hit on its hands. From Israeli military hardware to Microsoft game controller to … to whatever you can get away with. The XBox 360 Kinect is a hit. When Adafruit announced a cash reward to the first person to write an open source driver for the Kinect, the Microsoft legal department kicked in, issuing a statement to CNet:

Microsoft does not condone the modification of its products. With Kinect, Microsoft built in numerous hardware and software safeguards designed to reduce the chances of product tampering. Microsoft will continue to make advances in these types of safeguards and work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant.

But cooler heads prevailed, and only days later the company took an about face. In an interview with Ira Flatow on NPR’s Science Friday, Director of Incubation, Alex Kipman, XBox, Microsoft, said the Kinect was left open “by design.” When asked if anyone would get in trouble with Microsoft for developing for Kinect outside of the XBox platform he replied with an emphatic:

Absolutely not.

For whatever the spin, Kipman went on to express his and Microsoft’s support for the enthusiastic embrace the Kinect has received from the open-source development community.

The sheer velocity that community has sprung up around hacking the Kinect far surpass even that which grew around the Wii, which was impressive in its own right. In less than 10 days Hector Martin claimed the prize from Adafruit, writing an open-source driver for the Kinect. In that same time Microsoft sold 1 million units!

Once the driver was in place, it was quickly ported to other platforms. Linux, Windows and Mac OS X can all run the device – Whether it is a full body controller for Mario, or an augmented reality overlay for your lightsaber, nearly every day someone comes up with something new. I’ve collected a few of my favorites here:

On the artistic side, Robert Hodgin, splits himself …

… and Atsushi Tadokoro frames himself

… while Henry Chu boxes himself …

Some of the more technical demo hacks are also well worth checking out, Dustin O’Connor hacks multi-touch with virtual objects …

The Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT Media Lab wrote a browser plug-in that allows any webpage to receive input via the Kinect …

While the ever ambitious Oliver Kreylos is just getting started — combining 3D glasses, a Kinect camera and a Wii, he has built a 3D virtual world that he uses to contruct molecules, atom by atom …

What I’m axiously awaiting is the hack that will run several Kinect Cameras in unison. The way the device works, it projects a grid of infrared dots into its field of view, one camera reads the grid to determine depth, and another camera reads color. With several Kinect devices one could map a larger area, including the “back face” so that objects and environments could be understood in-the-round. This device has potential beyond any single one of our imaginations. It’s a powerful new tool we have in the inventory of affordable augmented reality, virtual reality, human-computer interface devices. This is going to be very very big for Microsoft. Far beyond a mere game controller, this is a game changer.

For those of us following Project Natal, this launch has been the long wait — Going from research project to shipped product, the device became Kinect, and it’s living up to its anticipation. Below, a pre-release demo played by Felicia Day shows the technology in its native habitat:


Registration in Mobile AR

Last week, at the first meeting held by ARNY - Augmented Reality New York, since this month’s are2010, Augmented Reality Event, I gave a talk dedicated to a tech trend that is emerging in mobile AR registration. It is based on the talk I gave at are2010, but focused specifically on the technology portion of the presentation.

Steven Feiner (see episode 1 of AR & Emerging Tech), whom we are so fortunate to have as a member of our organization — based on hands-on access to the PTAM source code and many years of experience as a pioneer in the AR space — expressed his opinion that this kind of registration will not be available for many more years. Not only is our organization fortunate to have Steve as a participant, but I’ve personally been fortunate to have him available to me as I fleshed out the ideas in this very presentation, so I find myself in the rare position of disagreeing with Steve. There are several reasons I feel this specific form of AR technology is going to come to market within the next 6 to 8 months (or less). I’ll give three here:

1.) The release of Apple iOS 4, and more specifically, the iOS 4 SDK (Software Developer Kit) has made public what were previously private APIs, now available to developers. This means that there is: A.) a capable consumer hardware platform with significant user-base. B.) With an infrastructure in place to monetize it (App Store).

2.) Between Google and Microsoft, and several other smaller players, we now have an extensive portion of the world, especially urban areas, mapped. So the reference mapping is now in place.

3.) The incentive for 3rd party software developers to crack this quickly is immense. The competition to bring this to market is fierce. The reward, huge. Several players in the space including Earthmine (who has released an SDK for incorporating their tech into iPhone apps), Tanagram (who have filed recent patents and claim they’ve solved it), Wikitude (who recently released computer vision based Wikitude Drive for the Android, and are partnering on Mobile AR work with IBM… possible acquisition?), Metaio (recently released mobile feature tracking Junaio Glue) are all hustling to bring computer-vision into the mobile space, and Earthmine and Tanagram are both pursuing this very form of computer-vision-to-mirror-world implementation of mobile AR registration.

No doubt many other upstarts are working furiously in garages around the world — the first to pull this off for the iPhone will stand to make a lot of money. This is no longer a competition between universities at academic conferences. This is now being driven by market forces and financial incentive. As of two days ago (the release of iOS 4), the hardware to support it is widely available and the APIs are accessible.

I believe we are on the cusp, with implementations of this sort on the immediate horizon, in months not years. Even if Steve disagrees with my timeline, I’m sure he secretly hopes I’m right.


Gadget: Sony MHS-PM5

Sony MHS-PM5 Mini Camcorder with Manfrotto 709BR Digi Tripod

This is far from a full-on review. More like an acknowledgement of participation by the newest tool in my arsenal of gadgets. All of my video from Augmented Reality Event (ARE 2010) was shot with my new Sony HD Bloggie MHS-PM5. While much of it was shot hand-held, I also brought along a Manfrotto 709BR Digi tripod. Originally bought to use with a 3M MPro120 pico projector, I had it with me to practice my presentation in my hotel room, and realized it could do double-duty (shown in the photo above).

I debated for a while whether to go with the CM5 or the PM5. It largely came down to a debate over compact-convenience vs optical zoom. I ultimately decided that I would get more use out of the PM5, being smaller and able to comfortably toss in my pocket without carrying a bag. Of course, there is always the possibility that it will be made instantly obsolete when I get the new iPhone 4, but it served its purpose for ARE and I’m certain to get more use out of it (Hey, it could be my iPhone camera’s #2. Power to the people.).

The mini-tripod combo worked well. In some presentations, I was able to get a desk seat, set up the camera on the tripod, and then not have to pay much attention to it (while, for instance, I geeked out live tweeting).

Extreme ease of use, I bought it only a day before my travel to Santa Clara, and did not take the time to experiment with it even once, for even a second until the moment I went to use it in the field for the first time. After leaving it on the charger over night, the following morning I turned it on for the first time mere moments before recording my first video, and knew intuitively exactly how to use it. It gets an A+ in ease of use.

There is one serious limitation to this device that any potential buyer must be aware of in advance: It can only record 29-minutes at a time. Even with a 16G SanDisk, which could hold several hours of video, it won’t record beyond the 29 minutes. You can record many multiple files of less than 29-minutes each, and you can begin recording another clip just seconds after saving the prior one, but 29-minutes is the time limit. The salesman at B&H explained to me that it had to do with EU import regulations — there are apparently extra import taxes on video recorders that can be avoided by being sold as a “still camera”. In the EU, if the device records for 30 minutes or longer, it is considered a video camera, but if it takes pictures and also video clips of less-than 30 minutes, it is designated as a “still camera” with a video “feature”. And Sony apparently wanted to avoid EU tariffs, but didn’t want to make a separate model just for the US market. Anyway, that was the story I was told at B&H. The reason this matters, besides being an annoying, arbitrarily imposed limitation, is that I once lost track of time, and let it run longer than 30 minutes (while recording Blaise Aguera y Arcas’s Keynote), and the device froze-up. Worse than that, the video file was corrupted, so I didn’t even get to keep the first 29 minutes. This was further disappointing because I was told explicitly that, if it reached the 30-minute limitation, that the device would just save the file and stop recording. In other words, that is simply would not do precisely what it did.

In the grander scheme of things, I think the situations where I will record more that 30-minutes continuously are exceedingly rare, so I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt… for now.

While certainly not the quality of an optical zoom, the digital zoom performed better than expected, especially at full 4x zoom (where my expectations were very low). And when used with no zoom, the image quality was quite crisp. The steady-cam feature also worked better than my expectations, when used handheld.

Another nice selling point is the ability to flip the camera lens back towards you. This means you can record interviews, keeping yourself in the frame, and still see the video playback screen for composition.

I almost forgot to mention the battery life. Amazing! I forgot to get a spare battery when I purchased the device, so I tried to get one at JFK on my way out. No luck. No luck at the San Francisco airport, when I arrived, either. I was very concerned that I would run out of battery life, and be left without the use of my device for the second half of each day. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Not only did the charge last all day long, the battery indicator never dropped below “fully charged”. I did put it back on the charger for the night, for the second day of the event, but still. It has now been a full week since I returned, and I have yet to see it indicate anything but a fully charged battery. Amazing battery life.

As the cheesy marketing name suggests, the “Bloggie” is marketed to bloggers such as myself. While the 29 minute record limit (and especially so, the corrupted file) were a big disappointment, I can still recommend the camera, based on its other features, so long as buyers are made well aware of this limitation going into the purchase. I really am the ideal target for such a product. As I aim to incorporate more-and-more video here at GigantiCo.tv, I expect I will get a lot more use out of the device. Perhaps I may come back and add my own comment to this post, after I’ve put it through the paces for a few months.

Oh, and as for the Manfrotto tripod — love it. Great ball-joint mounting head, sturdy, well made. Small enough to fold up and stick in your back pocket. Pretty sleek industrial design, too.

Disclosure: All product links include my Amazon affiliate tag.


Bruce Sterling @ are2010

“At the 9:00 AM of the Augmented Reality Industry”

Bruce Sterling
9:00 AM June 2nd, 2010
Santa Clara Convention Center
Santa Clara, California

I have at least a couple of articles to write from this event, but I want to go ahead and get this video posted. I had the very good fortune to meet Mr. Sterling over lunch, at the introduction of Tish Shute.

For the video of my own presentation, my video camera was placed on the table next to the projector which had a fan, quite enough that I didn’t notice it when I set up the camera there, but in the audio track of my video, all you can hear is the cooling fan for the projector, and my voice is buried in the noise. I’ve been attempting to salvage it with some noise filters, with little luck so far. I’m been inquiring about to see if anyone recorded my session that I could dub the audio in from. No luck so far.


Augmented Reality Event, June 2-3

I’m both ecstatic and humbled to be a part of Augmented Reality Event, especially in its inaugural year. I would have been enthusiastic simply to attend such an event in its first year — Being invited to speak felt somewhat like I would imagine one of the side-stage bands must have felt, being invited to play Lollapalooza in 1991. This is going to be an event that grows, and I expect people will talk about in the coming years.

The Keynote speaker lineup is worth traveling for — Bruce Sterling, Will Wright, Blaise Aguera y Arcas and Jesse Schell. The exhibitors and other industry speakers make the event every bit worth attending, but putting together a rock-star supergroup like that for the Keynote speakers lineup… and for a first year event at that. Amazing! Anyone of those four guys alone would be a speaker worth attending to see.

Above, I’ve edited together the video montage above of appearances by Bruce, Will, Blaise and Jesse, speaking at other events; to get an idea what is in store, have a look.

Bruce Sterling
Bruce Sterling, Keynote Speaker, Augmented Reality EventIn the 1980s, Bruce, along with William Gibson and Rudy Rucker, was one of the writers who created the Cyberpunk Science Fiction sub-genre. Though his stock has always remained high, his mainstream profile has been rising, as a futurist cultural commentator. As a contributing editor to WIRED Magazine, he has become a vocal advocate, some might say an evangelist, for Augmented Reality. He has also served as Visionary in Residence at the Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California.

Will Wright
Will Wright, Keynote Speaker, Augmented Reality EventLegendary game developer, in 1989 Will created SimCity, both one of the top selling, and one of the most influential computer games of all time. So successful it bloomed into an entire franchise including SimCity 2000, SimCity Societies, SimEarth and many others; spawning a whole genre of simulation games. He later went on to create TheSims, and most recently Spore — each a legendary game in its own right. Today Wright runs an entertainment development studio called, “Stupid Fun Club.”

Blaise Agüera y Arcas
Blaise Aguera y Arcas, Keynote Speaker, Augmented Reality EventBlaise founded software company SeaDragon, acquired by Microsoft in 2006. Since then his star has been rising like a rocket. One of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, Newsweek’s multipage profile simply titles him “Super Hero”. Playing a leadership role at Microsoft LiveLabs, he has been one of the most popular speakers at TED. Blaise was recently promoted to Director of Bing Maps where many of the innovations developed at LiveLabs are now finding a home in shipped products.

Jesse Schell
Jesse Schell, Keynote Speaker, Augmented Reality EventYouthful diversions as a stand-up comic, and juggling circus clown groomed Jesse for his role as Creative Director for the Walt Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio — seven years creating immersive visitor experiences for Walt Disney theme parks. In 2004 he left to start his own entertainment design firm, Schell Games, and was named one of the world’s top 100 young innovators by MIT Technology Review. Today Jesse also serves on the faculty of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

My own Talk is titled: Mobile AR, OOH and the Mirror World. I will be speaking on Thursday morning, June 3, at 9:20 AM in Ballroom H (Business Track, B12). I look forward to meeting some of you there.

I would like to thank Ori, Tish, whurley and Sean for making this event happen, and particularly thank Ori & Tish for inviting me to speak (no, for insisting that I speak).

This is the sort of event worth traveling for. And anyone on the West Coast has no excuse not to attend. I look forward to seeing you all there (and if you’re a friend or GigantiCo reader, get in touch with me ASAP. I have some promotional code discounts to share).


AR & Emerging Tech, pt3

Part Three of Six
Mobile Augmented Reality, The Ultimate Game Changer

I’ve taken my Augmented Reality & Emerging Technologies presentation, and serialized it into six video episodes. The third of which is featured above. I am releasing them here, in sequence.

If you only watch one video in this series, this is the one to watch.

Sources, References & Inspirations:

Selected Research: Oxford
Georg Klein: Website of PTAM researcher.
PTAM: Parallel Tracking and Mapping.

Selected Research: University of Washington
Noah Snavely: Team Leader, now at Cornell.
Photo Tourism: Precursor to Microsoft Photosynth.

Selected Research: Georgia Tech
Blair MacIntyre: Director, Augmented Environments Lab.
Augmented Environments Lab: Home.

Selected Research: Carnegie Mellon University
Yaser Ajmal Sheikh: Assistant Research Professor.
Robotics Institute: Where Carnegie Mellon’s AR research is done.

Video: Keynote:
Eric Schmidt: Speaks at Mobile World Congress.

DataViz: Data Visualization:
Links to the websites of the Data Visualization artists mentioned:
Aaron Koblin and Jer Thorp.

Data: Sources, companies or organizations mentioned:
NY Data Mine: Public Datasets released by New York City.
NYC Big Apps: Winning entries, including “WayFinder” for Android.
Data.gov: Public Datasets as released by the US federal government.
DataSF: Public Datasets as released by San Francisco.
London Datastore: Public Datasets as released by London.
Pachu.be: Realtime environmental sensory data.
InfoChimps: Data Commons and Data Marketplace.
DataMarketplace: Marketplace for structured data.
Numbrary: Directory of structured data.
Factual: Data mashup platform.

Company Links: Some companies mentioned:
PolarRose: Facial recognition software.
Face.com: Facial recognition software.
TAT: (The Astonishing Tribe) Mobile software.
Comverse: Mobile & network software.
QderoPateo: Chinese launched AR mobile patform.
LiveLabs: Microsoft LiveLabs, home of Photosynth.
Leica Geosystems: Maker of 3D laser scanners.
Artescan: 3D scanning services company.
Earthmine: Mirror World urban mapping.
EveryScape: Mirror World urban mapping.
Google Earth: Google’s Mirror World.
Ustream: live streaming video.
Livestream: live streaming video.
Justin.tv: live streaming video.
Zenitum: Computer vision software.
Metaio: Augmented Reality development software.
Seac02: Augmented Reality development software.

App Store Links: iPhone Apps, as featured in the video:
NY Subway by Acrossair
Layar Reality Browser by Layar
Wikitude by Mobilizy
Bionic Eye by Presslite
Sekai Camera by Tochidot
Zagat to Go by Zagat
Yelp by Yelp
Stella Artois, Le Bar Guide by InBev
Junaio by Metaio
AR Compass by Lodestone


AR & Emerging Tech

Part One of Six
Augmented Reality in Context

I’ve taken my Augmented Reality & Emerging Technologies presentation, and serialized it into six video episodes. The first of which is featured above. The following five episodes have been animated and scripted. They will be released in sequence as I complete the voice-over.

On a side note, I have just returned from France where I was attending Laval Virtual and, thanks to Ben Thomas, had the opportunity to tour the impressive advanced technology showroom at Echangeur in Paris. In fact, it is thanks to Ben that I was able to make it to Laval at all. When the French train workers’ union went on strike, he rented a car to drive us down.

Sources, References & Inspirations:

VIDEO: Dennou Coil
the complete series (links to episode 1)

PDF: Man-Computer Symbiosis
by J.C.R. Licklider, 1960
(PDF also includes The Computer as a Communication Device by J.C.R. Licklider & Robert Taylor, 1968)

PDF: Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework
by D.C. Engelbart, 1962

WEB: Memorandum For Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network
by J.C.R. Licklider, 1963

PDF: Future Multimedia User Interfaces
by Steven Feiner & Blair MacIntyre, 1996

PDF: Augmented Reality: A Class of Displays on the Reality-Virtuality Continuum
by Paul Milgram with Haruo Takemura, Akira Utsumi and Fumio Kishino, 1994
(PDF automatically downloads as a local file)

PDF: Metaverse Roadmap
by John Smart, Jamais Cascio and Jerry Paffendorf, 2007


Snow Crash
by Neal Stephenson

Virtual Light
by William Gibson

Rainbows End
by Vernor Vinge


Long Live the QR Code

GigantiCo - Long Live the QR Code

This is written is response to an article by Dan Neumann, Emerging Platforms Strategist at Organic, titled “RIP: Why We Don’t Need QR Code Campaigns.

Some Background
QR Codes are a form of 2D barcoding technology widely used in Asia, especially Japan, as well as parts of Europe. These codes are placed on printed marketing materials, and when a user points the camera on their phone at the code and clicks, the phone reads the barcode and takes the user to a website (they are also widely used for things like phone numbers, digital coupons, and the like). Despite many years of use abroad, the technology has never seen mainstream adoption in the US.

The Case
In brevity, Dan argues that this failure of adoption in the US market is because there is no use for them here. He states (without siting a source) that phones with full keyboards have greater market share in the US than they do in Japan, and by extension that Americans are happy to type URLs into their phone and hence have no use for QR Codes (To be fair, he also states that carriers in Southeast Asia, “ensured that reader applications were installed on every device.”).

What I Have to Say About That
I completely disagree with Dan’s reasoning for QR Codes failure in the US, but I do agree with his advice to marketers (for now) to stick with URLs, at least until the related industries get their collective act together.

Speaking for myself, I’d much rather point my camera and click to get to a mobile website than type it in manually on a chicklet size keypad. And I’d speculate that, given the option, most other users would as well. The problem is a failure of adoption on the part of carriers and handset makers who have not chosen to include the software as a preinstall or even better, as part of the phone’s OS in the US market.

What Dan describes is not a preference on the part of Americans to manually type in URLs, but a high barrier to first-use. Once the app is installed, they never have to do all that work again. But it is a huge hurdle to expect of the user — a multi-step process — to download the software and install it on their phone, in order to use it for the first time. That is a failure of leadership and initiative on the part of both the mobile advertising industry, and of the carriers and the mobile manufactures.

As it is, individual campaigns have been burdened with the responsibility to introduce and educate about the technology: Each campaign that implements a QR Code has to promote not just their product/service, but also promote and educate the user about the technology. And then the onus to download and install the technology is on the users themselves.

So I disagree with Dan’s reasoning that the failure of adoption of QR Codes in the US is because users are just fine with typing URLs into their phone’s keyboard. But I do think, for individual campaigns right now/today, that URLs are the best stop-gap solution.

Another oversight of the argument is that it doesn’t even address the matter of US market penetration for mobile phones with qwerty keyboards vs mobile phones with cameras. For some sobering numbers: Mobile phones with full keyboards (including touch screen keyboards) make up 16% of the US mobile market vs ~80% for phones with cameras (Keyboard Source: Wireless Federation. Camera Source: I pulled it out of my, er, recollection).

There needs to be a coordinated adoption initiative among related industries so that campaigns can focus on their marketing goals instead of educating the public about the technology.

Furthermore, as marketers are aware, most short URLs are taken. Campaign specific URLs are generally longer, for the simple reason of availability. To make them easier to remember, smart marketers will opt to use a memorable phrase, tag line or slogan as the URL for a campaign. Given the choice between typing in an entire phrase on a phone size keyboard vs clicking one button, I’d say the QR Code wins hands down… if only the related industries could collectively get their act together.

Where I agree with Dan is that using URLs for a campaign today is the smart choice. The responsibility for educating the public should not fall on individual campaigns and the responsibility for installing the software should not fall on individual users, and until that problem is addressed, typing in a URL is the best option.

GigantiCo - Long Live the QR CodeI do think Dan picked the right execution to criticize, but for different reasons — the choice of channel. This appears to be a magazine print ad. I would suggest that OOH is a more appropriate channel for such a mobile code implementation.

One More Thing
I have an intuition about this Ford campaign. The particular example given in this Ford ad is technically not a QR Code. The term QR Code specifically refers to an open standard bar-code created by Denso-Wave of Japan. What is shown in Dan’s example is actually one of Microsoft’s proprietary HCCB Codes. Microsoft is attempting to take on the QR Code open standard, and my intuition is that they may have subsidized this Ford campaign. While I personally prefer to see the adoption of an open standard, at least the campaign would make a lot more strategic (and tactical) sense for both parties involved if this turns out to be the case. But that’s speculation on my part.