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QR code and tablets can revolutionise print

india Updated: Mar 06, 2011 21:15 IST
N Madhavan
N Madhavan
Hindustan Times
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Last week, days before Steve Jobs released a slimmer, faster version of the iPad -equipped with a camera - at the same price at which he launched the first version a year ago, I also wrote about how tablets costing less than Rs 10,000 had hit the market.

I have been writing of a future in which people will use 3G connections with tablet computers will watch videos and read magazines and books on the devices they hold, but I got an extra insight into what could be when I witnessed a demonstration of the QR code, being developed by startups like Flick2Know Technologies.

QR code is short for Quick Response code and is much like the bar code - but with one big difference. A barcode reads information from the code stuck on products onto computers - a QR code, scanned with a mobile camera (which is so common these days), points to a connected website or online multimedia content.

Now, imagine you are reading a newspaper or a magazine (the old paper stuff) and you come across an article that discusses, say the iPad 2 and you point your mobile handset or tablet computer's camera at the QR code. Presto! You immediately can watch a related video. That's what I got to experience.

Prasanto Roy, chief editor of PCQuest (which now calls itself India's first hyperlinked print magazine), says this can help advertisers measure response to their print ads through connected online surveys or link it to social networking sites.

But I see this as a bigger phenomenon going beyond additional value for advertisers. Though it is possible even now for people to log on to Internet addresses by entering what is printed on a page, the combination of a tablet computer and a QR code can make newspapers behave like TV channels - if they wanted to - by offering instant convenience to readers and constantly updated content.

This means that in the latest episode of the great game called convergence, it is literally possible for audio and video files to be viewed by print consumers as long as they have a handy tablet - which I expect to be commonplace in less than two years. This can unfurl many possibilities.