Thursday, November 5, 2009

Travel Books Meet Mobile Technology with QR Codes

Travel Books Meet Mobile Technology with QR Codes
As the line between actual books printed on paper and electronic books blur, the publishing industry is always looking to come up with new, innovative ways to stay current. The world of travel guides is no different. Travelers increasingly turn to laptops and cell phones to do everything from plan their vacations to find their way around a new place.

But now, Quick Response(QR)Codes offer an easier way to connect your travel guidebooks with your smartphone. The codes are already a big hit in Japan. Essentially, you can aim smartphone cameras and other devices at the QR codes, which are like barcodes found in travel books, and you're linked to online information such as maps or directions based on where you are located. You may also store information in your phone about the location on the page. QR codes aren't just in books, though. You can find them everywhere from on billboards to t-shirts.

A new travel book, Earthbound: A Rough Guide to the World in Pictures is using QR codes to help link readers to different locations around the world. The $30 coffee-table book features over 250 glossy photos from exotic world locations with insight from the photographers. It's just like any other travel or photo book, but it also features little black and white boxes next to each image. These are the QR codes and they offer a link to each location on Google Maps.

The book suggests using either of the free apps, 2D sense and NeoReader, for reading the codes. QuickMark code-scanning app ($0.99 in the app store) is also said to be a good app to use along with the QR codes. A spokesperson for the book's publisher says later generation iPhones and Blackberry's work best for reading the codes. In addition to looking at maps of the various locales, you can look at satellite images and bookmark locations so that you can get directions to that location should you ever be in the area.

This may not seem like much, but technology experts say it's only the beginning of what you could do with QR codes and travel. An Associated Press writer compares it to folding down the pages in a guidebook, while Scott Strickland, the Rough Guides Design Manager says he foresees a future where travelers can scan the codes in the books and leave the books at home or in their hotel rooms, to lighten their loads. He also says the company is simply "testing the waters" and while they do agree there is a widening gap between print books and technology, they have no further concrete plans to put QR codes in more books, at least not until the phenomenon becomes more popular.

No comments: