Smartphone Nightmare: Tiny Keyboards vs. Big Fingers

29 06 2011

At 6’4” and 275 pounds, I’m good at holding chairs to the ground, not typing lengthy web addresses into smartphone keyboards.  When you hear, “Awww…  dammit!” in restaurants, meetings, and other public places, that’s me cursing clumsy fingers that constantly hit the “backspace delete” instead of the “m” on my iPhone.

QR Code

QR (Quick Response) Codes were first introduced 17 years ago (1994) by Toyota as part of a digital inventory control system.  They have grown in popularity as an alternative to lengthy web addresses that are difficult to enter on the keyboards of mobile devices.  This is the SearchEngineLand.com address for QR Code information:  http://searchengineland.com/what-is-a-qr-code-and-why-do-you-need-one-27588  That 75 character address can be easily replaced with a small, free icon like the one above that will provide “one click” access to the same web page.

In a digital world that is totally dominated by mobile devices, QR Codes are an imperative.  Most importantly:  QR Codes are free, and they are easy to create.  There are a multitude of QR Code scanner and QR Code creator apps that can be downloaded (free) to any smartphone or tablet.  Keep in mind that a camera and internet access are required.  For more information go to:   http://www.qrstuff.com.

QR Codes have been placed on the backs of business cards with links to the individual’s personal or business website, on the uniforms of people staffing events with links to their company’s website.  They have been placed on the printed descriptions of artwork in museums with links to expanded information about the art that can then be saved.  History buffs are placing QR Codes on Civil War tombstones.  They link to pages that provide detailed information about the interred soldier.  The applications are endless.

As you embark upon the use of this technology, keep in mind an important pitfall.  Although QR Codes are hugely popular with thousands of websites describing their usage, providing software, etc., there is no active corporate support for this tool.

Enter Microsoft Tag, AT&T Mobile Barcode Services, and Mobile Tag.  These latecomers have developed similar tools that are not cross-compatible with QR Codes or each other.  If you happen to scan a code with the wrong scanner, the result is typically a string of meaningless numbers.  These proprietary formats spell doom for an exciting solution to a major smartphone annoyance, but unless domestic carriers select and implement a fixed standard, the future looks grim.

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