scanbuy-citysearch-discovery-copy.jpgScanbuy, Discovery Communications and Citysearch Establish the First Permanent QR Colony in the New World.

In a truly monumental moment in (US-based) mobile marketing, New York-based Scanbuy has teamed up with Discovery Communications and Citysearch to launch by far the largest, most useful and altogether impressive application of QR Codes ever deployed on the North American Continent.

The program focuses on two key areas of QR Code activation: Restaurant reviews and other location-based user generated content (supplied by Citysearch), and “walking tour” audio guides that relate to specific San Francisco landmarks (courtesy of Antenna Audio, A Discovery Communications company). Consumers access both services by scanning an “EZcode” (Scanbuy’s 2D barcode format) with Scanbuy’s “Scanlife” QR Reader. Those without the reader installed on their handsets (read: most people) will first need to download the reader to their device, which is done via a simple text-message / WAP-push mechanism.

  • Restaurant / Business Guides (Citysearch). Scanbuy announced that “more than 500 restaurants and businesses in San Francisco will display ScanLife 2D barcodes” by way of window clings (see image, below). Scanning the codes will then “deliver Citysearch’s original and consumer-generated reviews directly to a user’s phone, allowing immediate access to relevant information and eliminating the extra steps of typing lengthy website addresses into mobile browsers.” Citysearch is distributing the window clings to San Francisco businesses, inclusive of the prominent EZ Codes specific to each restaurant or business.
  • Audio Guides (Discovery / Antenna Audio). Visitors to the City by the Bay will have the opportunity to access “walking tour” style content in the form of audio clips, images, maps, and other information relating the city and its more noteworthy landmarks. In this case the EZ Codes are being promoted in posters, bus shelters, street teams and other outdoor media (see images, below), with eventual plans to place the codes on or (most likely) near the city landmarks themselves. Scanning any of these codes will automatically launch the Discovery Audio mobile site in the phone’s browser, a snappy little portal that renders quite well in tested handsets. Content is organized by first neighborhood (Downtown, North Beach, and The Wharf / Marina) and then by landmark. The brief audio clips are quite good, framed as an “insiders view” to the city, and are rendered in the .3GP format. A few samples of the audio clips are as follows: sanfranciscoferrybuilding.3gp, palacehotel.3gp, baybridge.3gp and chinatown.3gp.

Commentary. While 2008 was the year that many anticipated mass use of QR codes would begin in the US, it is doubtful that anyone would have predicted an implementation approaching this scale or utility. Many thanks to Shab, of whom I owe $5 for giving us the heads-up on this. This is a big one, folks…

Click on the thumbnails below to view images:


3 Responses to “San Francisco: The Plymouth Rock of QR Codes”

  1. #1 Martin says:

    Thanks. Nice info. Will use this in my quest for bringing QR codes to Norway.

  2. #2 Olaf Dunn says:

    QR codes outside of Japan and Korea seem to have a major disadvantage. Currently there is no embedded software to read these codes, so acting on a code displayed in a newspaper or on the subway is not as easy as just taking it. They have to download the java app (inherently suffers from java fragmentation), re-visit the qr code, and then take the picture.
    A more adaptive way to approach this solution would be to let the users MMS the captured barcode, and let a server process it and send back the response.
    Looking at the barcode examples, it also seems that they do not follow the same standard that QR follows, rendering other barcode readers that users may have installed on their phones useless for the task.

    Maybe time will show that device manufactures embed these readers into handsets that are available outside Japan and Korea, and the uptake will increase.

  3. #3 Jenzing says:

    really good article…

    I have spent a bit of time going through your posts, more than I should have but I must say, , many Thanks….

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