April 21, 2010

Adventures in Letterpress: QR Code Calling Cards

Because correspondence is communication by letters, I don't see why the definition should exclude written communications between individuals that are face to face at the time of delivery. Enter: the personal calling card. Lacking a card of my own, I set out to create one that represented me as an individual. That card needed to honor the traditions of the past, while still being innovative and fresh... with a dash of mystery. Really, I wanted a card that was artistic, yet functional.

A QR (quick response) code is a lot like a barcode, in that it contains information that is displayed when read. However, unlike a barcode, a QR code can carry up to 4000 characters of information, direct a device to a URL, load contact information, or queue up GPS coordinates. Already big in Japan, QR codes are slowly making their way over to the States.

The moment I learned about QR codes, I knew that they were for me. So, I created a code of my own (using the free QR code generator at Kaywa.com) and letterpressed them onto 110 lb. florescent white Crane Lettra paper, using my unique letterpress printing method.

My QR code doesn't hold very much information, only my name and personal e-mail address. So the card doesn't make full use of the QR technology, but that wasn't really my objective. With these cards I wanted to blend the hi-tech with the low-tech. I think it's amazing that early 20th century technology can be used to transmit information directly to modern, 21st century devices.

Unfortunately, I can really only hand these cards out to other technological early adopters, as only smart phones, such as the iPhone and Android devices, can run the software necessary to read QR codes. However, while smart phones and QR codes become ubiquitous, I'll still continue to hand out my QR cards to the people I meet. If anything, they'll be a conversation starter. After all, isn't good conversation what correspondence is all about?


MarcWomm said...

Hi James. Thank for that post. I like the idea too and I have created a QR on the free QR code generator site at Kaywa.com.
Then I wanted to install the reader on my iPhone and when I tried to open the download page on my iphone I got the message that my phone is not supported by the Kaywa Reader.

What a disappointment. Do you use it on the iphone? Can you help?

James said...

Hey there, Marc,
Yay for innovation! I have an iPhone, too. The reader I use is called "QR app," a free app from Block5. If you search "qr app" in the app store, it's the first hit. I'm not sure if it's the app, or the qr technology itself, but reading the codes can take some patience. One last note, although I think the app could be written so as not to require user assistance, make sure that the code has the proper end up. The reader won't read upside down codes.

Happy QR reading!


MarcWomm said...

Thank you for the fast reply. It is working for me.

PrePaid Phone Cards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Calling Cards said...

Is it working Now ??

Calling Cards