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Waterfront Auckland puts the info in wanderers' palms with QR-code tour

landscape illustration

Tapping into the rising popularity of QR codes, Waterfront Auckland has a new trick up its sleeve: a new attraction that uses your smartphone to take you on an interactive tour of the city’s best sights.

Created by Set QR in conjunction with ad agency Republik, the tour uses specially designed QR (quick response) codes that are physically displayed around the waterfront. Users can walk around, scan the codes with their smartphones, and get linked to brief video histories of sights, sounds, and installations in the area.

QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes readable by smartphones with QR scanners. The codes can link the user to a website, text, or other data. In Japan, where QR codes were invented, they are already widely used, but New Zealand has been relatively slow to take up QR codes compared to other parts of the world such as Europe, Asia and the US (check out WTF QR Codes for some of the strangest examples). However, Ollie Langridge of Set QR thinks this will all change soon.

“What was really cool about this project is that now with smartphone penetration in New Zealand approaching almost 50 percent, it’s great to be able to showcase our work on shore,” Langridge says.

“We’ve been doing this for about five or six years now and only recently has QR awareness come into New Zealand. Seven or eight months ago we had no New Zealand clients, and now we’re putting on a whole lot of big-name New Zealand clients.”

For Langridge, whose company Set QR has worked with several big-name brands overseas such as Louis Vuitton and Time magazine, the Waterfront Auckland project provided a fresh change of pace.

“Normally we’re asked to put brand logos in about 80 percent of our assignments, [but] this one was much more art-based. For us it was a really lovely little job where we could actually get creative about it.”

The QR codes feature different aspects of Auckland’s waterfront such as the Cloud or the Silos, which are integrated into the code’s design. Langridge says the designs reflected the quality of what they wanted to bring to the project.

“All of these things are combined within the codes themselves to give some kind of equity to them, to show people what they were about and what they were going to be scanning.”

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