Category Archives: 2D Barcodes

BeeTagg – a new 2D barcode reader for your iPhone

BeeTagg Reader is the latest 2D barcode reader to enter the fray.  I have yet to try it but you can now download it at the iTunes App store.  The BeeTagg is one of the best looking 2D barcodes out there. – your ‘one stop shop’ for all your 2D barcode needs is a very cool site which provides you with the tools to generate any type of 2D barcode you might need.  Not only does it allow you to generate the standard web codes, text codes and phone codes you can also create social codes for applications like Facebook and even image and music codes by uploading MP3’s and JPEG’s.  This site is definitely worth checking out.  It was built and run by a small firm with offices in San Francisco and Europe and based on what I have seen here I am sure you will be hearing a lot more about  Head on over and generate your own codes now.

Read on…

‘QR Codes on Google Maps’

Keir Clarke over at Google Maps Mania has a write-up on generating QR Codes for Google Maps.  He suggests these three sites for creating your own QR Codes from geolocated data:

  • (which we already covered in an earlier post) connects Wikipedia articles with real world locations.
  • QRMap allows you to generate a code simply by dragging and dropping a placemark on a Google Map which you then email to yourself via a link on the map.  While definitely clever I am not sure it is any more efficient than the method I describe in a previous post.
  • QR Code Mapplet is more of a marketing tool but a cool one at that.  It allows registered users to create Google Maps placemarks with embedded QR Codes for events, sales, etc.  Definitely head over and check out the demo to see what is possible.

Lastly, Keir suggests Google Chart API for those of you who want to look under the hood.

Read on…

QR Code for a Google Earth Semacode

I am truly fascinated by this 2D barcode business, especially how it relates to location based information.  I found the perfect storm of 2D barcode and Google Earth this weekend when I came across Hello, world!.  In May 2006 two Germans mowed a 160mx160m Semacode into a wheat field outside the town of Ilmenau in the Land Thuringia.  (Ok, I could stop right there and this story would already be cool.  Did you even know there is a place called Land Thuringia!?)

They did it for typical geek reasons and then overflew the patch, snapped some pics and posted it.  Frank Taylor posted a write-up and KMZ file over at Google Earth Blog in May of last year.  I used Frank’s file to create a QR Code using the handy-dandy Kaywa QR-Code Generator and then copy and pasted the HTML code into a new placemark which I titled ‘Hello, world!’.

Unfortunately, snapping a pic with my iPhone’s NeoReader only gave me an error message as an iPhone cannot yet read KMZ.  (Snapping the actual wheatfield mow job pops up the website.)  However, with Earthscape’s new foray into the field of iPhone Apps with their newly released Earthscape Basic App we may soon be able to get stuck in some Escher-esque infinite QR Code/Google Earth loop.

Why is this all so fascinating?  We can now easily generate a QR Code for any geolocated data and with the recent release of iPhones in 21 new countries and the massive penetration of Nokias with their built in QR Code reader snapping pics of QR Codes to find out information about a location that is not available via other means (WikiMe, etc) will become more and more popular.

I realize I have not even begun to scratch the surface of what is possible with these technologies.  If anyone has information regarding these types of hacks, mash-ups, etc please comment.

How to embed Google Maps directions in a 2D barcode

First, you’ll need an iPhone and access to a computer.

Next, download a reliable 2D barcode reader from the App store.  I have been using the NeoReader and it seems to work well.

Select your route in Google Maps.  I have chosen a route between Marin Coffee Roasters (great coffee) and The Crucible (great welding classes).

Select the ‘Link’ option in the upper right corner of your Google Map and copy the link to your clipboard.

Open the Kaywa QR-Code Generator (my new favorite) and select the URL option.  Paste the Link you obtained from Google Maps into the URL box and select ‘Generate’.

You will now see a large QR Code which contains your Google Map route.  (I recommend using the large size if you are trying to take a picture of the image on your computer screen.)

Take a photo of the QR Code with the NeoReader on your iPhone.  The NeoReader will ask you if you want to use the photo, select ‘Use Photo’ the select ‘Continue’.  Your iPhone will first open Safari but once it recognizes that the QR Code content is a Google Map Link it should automatically open the Google Map App and plot the same course.  Here is my route on my iPhone’s Google Map App which you can compare against the mapped route above:

While this may not prove incredibly useful for the humanitarian community it does show that with a few simple tools useful data can be easily embeded into a small image in a matter of minutes by even the most inexperienced user.

2D barcodes and why they might prove useful to aid workers

Some of you probably cannot figure out why I keep harping on 2D barcodes as a resource for humanitarian aid workers.  For those of you who have no idea what 2D barcodes even look like:

They are a way of compiling up to 1/2 page worth of information into a postage stamp sized, mobile phone readable, matrix design like the one you see above.  The most ubiquitous type of 2D barcodes are QR Codes.  The information within the code is easily accessed with a 2D barcode reader.  If you have an Apple iPhone or any one of a number of Nokia phones you can download 2D Sense, Neoreader, iDecode or any one of these readers.  There is also a reader made by ScanLife but it reads proprietary codes that are currently involved in a restaurant review roll out in San Francisco.  Nokia also has it’s own 2D barcode reader that comes pre-installed on a number of phones or you can download it here.

If you have the requisite hardware and have downloaded the App you are going to use fire it up and snap a pic of the Aid Worker Daily code you see above.  If you are using an iPhone the reader will ask you if you would like to visit  You will then (of course) click ‘yes’ and now you can read more of these fascinating posts while you wait in line for a cup of coffee.  2D barcodes can encode a wide array of information, even audio, and are commonly used on Japanese business cards where they provide easy access to a person’s contact information.

How many times have you arrived at UN coordination meeting, met dozens of people, all of whom told you the exact same thing, “This is my most recent business card.  The email is still good but I am waiting on my new cards with my local address and new mobile number.”?  It has happened to me plenty of times and it is the same mind numbingly slow process that inevitably detracts, albeit slightly, from the mission at hand.  It is a waste of time and for which until now there really has not been a suitable solution aside from heading back to the office, emailing your information to the recipients address, and then waiting for a response with his info.  Or you sit there for 5 minutes typing in each person’s name until you have covered about half the folks you wanted to meet and the other half have already left.

Now there is a solution and here is how you solve the problem…

When you arrive on location find out your address, phone number and any other relevant contact information.  Fire up your laptop and head on over to i-nigma to create you own personal 2D barcode.  Select ‘Contact details’ and fill in the blanks.  It should look something like this:

You now have your very own code!  Right click on the image and save it to your desktop.  Print it out on a piece of paper and tape it to the back of your phone.  (Ok, I admit the taping part is a bit hokey but I always taped my new number to the back of my phone so I always had easy access to it.)  Now, when you go to a coordination meeting simply hold up the back of your phone, let your new friend snap a pic of it, and your contact information should immediately become accessible on his or her phone!  No more waiting, typing, etc.  You can also attach this image to an email and folks can snap a pic of it straight off of their computer screen.

Nokia has a similar service which you can access here and which looks like this:

There are a host of other generators out there and most of them will allow you top enter text, web addresses, or contact information.  For example, you could easily generate code with meeting schedules for different sectors embedded in them and then post them on one sheet near the entrance so that attendees could snap a few pics on the way out and have the entire schedule saved in their phone.

There are many possibilities and I am fairly certain that you will soon see 2D barcodes showing up in a whole of humanitarian applications.  Next time I’ll write about how to embed your coordinates, or even a .KMZ file for Google Earth, in a 2D barcode.

ScanLife 2D barcode reader App now available for the iPhone

ScanLife has finally released their 2D barcode reader for the iPhone.  Until now it was available for a host of other phones but now you can hit the App icon and download it for free.

ScanLife is involved in a city wide roll out of 2D barcode reviews, available via Citysearch, throughout San Francisco.  Read the article that the project here.