From QR to AR

QR codes are an effective way to bridge the gap between offline and online. You probably have made that transfer to ‘online’ when you scanned the QR code in the Dutch Chamber Magazine. By scanning the QR code you’re able to access information and functionality otherwise unavailable. We’ll show you an example of this below.

QR codes are immensely popular in China. You can find them anywhere and you can use them for many different things: to retrieve product information, including its origin; to pay for anything, from chocolate bars at the 7-Eleven to your holiday to the Maldives; identify kids and even elderly by the tag they wear on a necklace (yes, it’s being done in China); to get discounts, etc.

A seemingly static QR code can give you access to very dynamic and user specific media. This is also interesting from a marketing point of view. By printing each magazine with its own QR code we could theoretically even have tracked who reads this article. (We didn’t do that in this case.) While this seems like a privacy issue, it’s completely optional and less intrusive than NFC tags or inescapable ibeacons.

While not very popular at first in Europe and America – some people even tried to convince others that QR codes are never scanned – big companies like Facebook and Snapchat are also more actively using QR codes now.

Apart from dynamic, user specific content there are the other obvious advantages of online over paper.

From QR to AR

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More space, animations, video and… AR.

AR, or Augmented Reality, became accessible for the general public in 2009 when a Dutch company called Layar launched an Android app which enabled you to point your phone’s camera in a certain direction and the app would show on the camera view the directions to shops and other attractions. It was a very advanced app (for its time) with only limited functionality. Times have changed. Phones got more powerful and developers became more creative with regard to applications of AR. Games like Pokemon Go enable interacting with virtual media in the real world. Android and recently also iOS now support advanced forms of AR.

At the moment most AR functionality still requires installing a dedicated app. However, like with video and social media, AR will increasingly be part of a normal browsing experience. As an example, we have prepared the following experiment.

On the next page you will see an example of AR. You will need to keep issue 190 of the Dutch Chamber Magazine open on page 15. It requires that you are reading this article on your mobile phone. Your phone needs to be an Android phone with Android 5 or higher, or an Apple phone with iOS 11 or higher. For iPhone 5S and newer an update to iOS 11 is available or already on your phone. Also, when asked, you need to make sure that you allow the website to access the camera and/or record video (no actual video is recorded, but that is just how it is called on some devices.).

Open in Safari or Chrome and point your phone’s camera at the whole page, not just the QR code.

If the experiment somehow doesn’t work, please check the following:

  • Are you using Android 5 or iOS 11 or higher?
  • On iOS 11 you don’t need a separate QR code app. Just point your normal camera at the code will open this article in Safari, instead of the QR app, in which the AR button above will work right away.
  • Some QR code scanner apps open the page within the scanner app. Try opening the page ( in the Android browser or Safari directly. FireFox for Android does not work yet.
  • Did you allow usage of the camera when visiting the AR page? If you accidentally denied access to the camera, revisiting the link will in most cases ask for permission again.
  • Alternatively, you could open the link on your laptop and hold page 15 of the magazine in front of the webcam.
  • Some black distortions might be visible when holding the (phone) camera further away from the page.

In case of questions or remarks, please contact