Monday, October 17, 2011

QR Codes a great way to integrate Wikipedia with physical museum exhibits

Last night I read an article in my local newspaper about the use of QR Codes to access and share a variety of information.  QR Codes are those little square images you see filled with odd shaped rectangles that can be used to launch applications and steer viewers to specific information sources or even input data into a database like your contact information.

They look like this:

The code above when scanned with a QR Code Reader application like RedLaser available for free for Android and iPhones will launch a web browser or (on my Droid 3) a Wikipaedia session and automatically navigate to the Wikipedia article about Attila the Hun.

I generated the code with RedLaser's free QR Code generator:  All I had to do was select the type of information I wished to encode (in this case a web URL) and enter the URL and click generate.  Then I could email the resulting .png image to myself where I could save it and/or print it out.
I am on the board of directors for the Historical Figures Foundation in Ventura, California, a non-profit organization that promotes the exhibit of museum quality historical miniatures created by artist/historian George Stuart.  At the present time, we have an exhibit of sculptures depicting "Really Awful" people at the Ventura County Museum.  Attila the Hun is one of these figures.  We are planning to afix these QR Codes to each figure's display case then provide visitors with a handout that explains how to download a free QR Code reader and scan each code to retrieve additional information about each historical personality in the exhibit during their visit.
QR Code applications can be used to automatically search local vendors for the best price for particular products, greatly enhance a museum experience, facilitate purchasing a product at the best price and exchange rich contact information that includes not only your name, address, phone and email but URLs for your home page, your blog(s), your Flickr photostream, your Twitter and Facebook accounts and even notes about your career specialities, personal favorites, etc. - much more than what you could fit on the typical printed business card!
This video shows how some people are using QR Codes to entice people to seek them out as if they were on a treasure hunt.  It also explains how you can generate a QR Code with Google.

I can't wait to explore this technology further!
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