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QR Codes Ugly? The Future of Unobtrusive Physical Hyperlinking

March 19, 2010

One of the issues with QR codes that I've heard several times is that they're not that visually appealing. I just ran across an interesting blog post Clothes With Matrix Codes Put Information Up Front | Singularity Hub. The post mentions another technology I wasn't aware of Data Glyphs, symbols that can be embedded into images in such a way as to be invisible to the human eye:

Speaking of displaying data unobtrusively. Data matrix codes are cool, but they all have a recognizable look about them that is destined to be associated with this decade as much as denim jackets are forever tied to the 1980s. The technology sure to replace them is already here; it’s just proprietary, expensive and impossible to implement by hand: data glyphs. Data glyphs, invented by Rob Tow, who reminisces about them here, are like matrix codes so intricate that they can be seamlessly hidden in unrelated images.

I think linking the physical world with the internet is inevitable. QR codes are an early step and I assumed the next phase would be using facial and other object recognition. It's also quite possible that these 'hidden' explicit links may be the next phase in linking real to virtual.

I also like this quote from the article:

Like telephone poles and printing presses, matrix codes will be remembered in the future as the hallmarks of a fundamentally new and different way of seeing the world. Even if, in the greater scheme of things, they themselves will only be visible for a short time.