Berkeley Patch noticed that our neighbors in El Cerrito — in a move called both “wonderful” and a “vanity project of dubious distinction" — have installed historical pavers in sidewalks along San Pablo Avenue.
When the paver were first installed, posted nearby were QR’s — the quick response barcodes in a box that in the last two years have been spreading faster than blisters on a child with chicken pox. Originally created by Toyota to track inventory, aiming a phone or code reader at one of El Cerrito’s QR’s allowed a pedestrian to hear stories of the city’s ancient plate collisions and police department moles.
Not to be outdone, we went in search of QR’s in Berkeley.
Finding nothing on ground level other than fashionable sandals and organic matter left by a wayward pup, we aimed our barcode readers a bit higher.
Pounding the pavement had worked up our appetites, so we were thrilled to discover that local foodies are getting their QR on.
At on Telegraph a savvy falafel and sweet potato fries eater scanned a QR code to get a free sandwich coupon downloaded to his phone.
In nearby Albany — and coming soon to a near you — CrispRoot, maker of gluten free cassava chips, is embracing QR’s in a big way. The black and white bar codes are printed right on the bag. Consumers can win chip contests and learn about the company’s commitment to sustainability — all while snacking happily at the point of purchase.
Berkeleyites are beginning to learn that pointing at a QR captures an astounding array of options. You can initiate a phone call, find a location on a map, land on a website, or tweet and “like” without end. You’ll need software, but Apple's iPhone application ("app") store provides a free app for download, and you can easily search the web for your phone’s reader via Mobile-Barcodes.com.
Across the nation, realtors are realizing the value. QR Codes on “For Sale” signs can lead home buyers to virtual tours, without ever unlocking a door.
Once you’ve found a place to call “home”, you can continue to link up to the QR world without going outside.
At FaceBook page, you can FB their QR to land on a Vino 125, or get the stats on a TRX90X0. No English required.
The is even getting into the act, with a promotion in the summer months — from July 1 through August 31 — offering a 3 percent discount for mail adorned with a QR. Details and information are available here.
Greenerprinter, a Berkeley-based maker of business cards, promotional materials, and a plethora of printed goods, has “green” black and white QR’s. They can print a code on your environmentally friendly business card, turning that wallet-sized piece of recycled, chlorine-free paper into a profitable advertising tool.
A QR code on a printed advertisement for a Berkeley City College open house was a dead end. One click led to a “Directory Listing Denied” message. Back to school for the programmer of that one.
Perhaps they could find a how-to guide at the . There, you can scan the locations and call numbers for books by scanning a QR code from a computer screen.
Which leaves QR coders with a few caveats.
•Test your code thoroughly to make sure older and newer devices can read it.
•The surface is important: computer screens are less consistent than physical print on paper.
•If your marketing plan leans heavily on QR’s, it’s best to provide instructions to newcomers on the QR scene.
Lest you think it’s all commerce, the Arbor Foundation might soon be getting into the act. Already, there’s an iPhone App called "What Tree Is That?" that will identify a tree by entering just a few basic features into a cell phone. A GPS system then tags the tree for future reference. The next step could well be a Berkeley project rather like El Cerrito’s pavers: imagine small, decorative QR’s, dangling from the lowest branches of the city’s beloved trees. One click, and you’re an expert on how and why each bit of greenery is a part of our city’s history.