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Thread: QR Codes

  1. #1

    QR Codes

    Anyone aware of any institution using QR Codes for inventory purposes? It seems much more versatile than traditional barcode systems, and any smartphone can become a reader with a free app. I'm not sure that there is any catalogue software that integrates this technology.

  2. #2
    PACCIN Advisory Committee Member T. Ashley McGrew's Avatar
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    I know that they are being used to interface with the public for educational purposes in galleries but I've not seen info on using them for collections management purposes. I know I have seen posts on the NAME list and on Museum-L on gallery use but off hand I can't remember anything anywhere else.
    Typically changes in information technology are approached pretty conservatively in the collections arena. Since this falls within more of the pure registration end of the work, I would put the question out on the Registrars list. If it's being done that is the best way to find out - no doubt.
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    PACCIN Advisory Committee Member T. Ashley McGrew's Avatar
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    You know how earlier I mentioned that many Registrars are slow to jump on board the latest information technology change. Maybe this link is an illustration of why that kind of conservatism is a good thing. This article is about QR codes already facing extinction. It was on the NAME list today. Don't know if it is accurate but here it is to check out anyway.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/those...re-dead-2011-3
    T. Ashley McGrew
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    Site Administrator Paul Brewin's Avatar
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    Read the comments

    There are some great observations in the comments below this article. I would tend to agree with most of the posters that QR codes are inexpensive, accessible and have long term potential, just like barcodes which are still being appropriated after decades.
    Paul Brewin - PACCIN Site Administrator

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    PACCIN Advisory Committee Member T. Ashley McGrew's Avatar
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    Paul your point is well taken and you are probably right in the big picture. Although I would hesitate to try and predict trends in anything technical myself (especially being old enough to have witnessed the Beta/VHS wars) the enhanced readability of the QR systems seem to make it much more versatile for consumer applications. As one poster mentions the ability to read them off of TV screens or bill boards with your phone is great for advertisers and it is cool that you can generate them yourself as well.
    I am not sure that those features are particularly important in the museum setting though - especially the phone part. From what I can tell regular barcodes have been in common use for over thirty years now and yet use of the technology in museums for collections purposes is still spotty at best.
    In this setting QR codes seem to have most of the same limitations as regular barcodes the most important of which is the need for line of site reading. The need to unwrap or move objects to be able to read them has different implications here than in commercial settings. If it is a difference between $ .15 and $ 1.50 per label (just made that up - I have no actual idea what they cost) the impact would be huge in the case of a billions of packs of Wrigley’s, but an entirely different matter when we are consider 100 thousand irreplaceable objects.
    If in the lifetime of a label it saves 25 unnecessary handlings coming out to $ .06 per, I think it will have earned its keep.
    It seems to me that the real competition in museums is between visually based and radio frequency based labeling systems. Cost still factors into everything of course. The question of how much that cost will be and of which products will come into common use making them more affordable for museums may be the result of which company Sam Walton can cut the best deal with!
    If with the backing of big players like Google, NFC is successful in promoting the technology to the point that it is affordable that would be nifty. It sounds kind of sophisticated compared to some of the RFID system that are already in use but who knows!
    I just hope that some kind of consensus comes to pass on this stuff because one of the main reasons given for years now for not using barcoding is that they are feeling that some form of RFID technology (whether it be Near- Field Communication or something else) may supplant it - which just results in most museums having the benefit of neither form of technology!
    T. Ashley McGrew
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    I am not sure that those features are particularly important in the museum setting though - especially the phone part. From what I can tell regular barcodes have been in common use for over thirty years now and yet use of the technology in museums for collections purposes is still spotty at best. ????
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    The phone thing interests me. At my old job we used barcodes but needed to buy pretty expensive hardware to be able to scan and assign locations to each code. With the cell phone apps can you keep track of QR codes that are locations, and where each item has been scanned to? That would be a significantly less expensive set up for a warehouse that was just getting started.

    to clarify, at my old job you would take a scanner and scan the barcode on the shelf you are at, and then scan all of the barcodes on the items on that shelf. Then the computer system would update and show all of the current locations for the items you just scanned. Is something like that possible with QR codes and phones?

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