SXSW Newsflash: By next year we’ll all be using QR codes

I’m not kidding, the funny little square thing that nobody ever really used except for weird school educational treasure hunts is poised to come back from a period of cultural exile!

And the reason for this dramatic u-turn? What Amy Webb refers to as the ‘last mile logistics’ trend – getting people or product from A to B in an urban environment. In Austin, this means Scooters. There are so many scooters at this year’s SXSW that resistance is futile, it’s undeniably the quickest and most convenient way to get around the city. And I’m assured by a local that this is not just a product of the festival, they appeared almost overnight in the middle of last year and apparently the same situation is true in all major US cities.

Bird was the first to market in Austin, followed closely by Spin, Lyft and Jump (from Uber).

Let’s park the scooter for a moment then and go back to QR codes. The reason QR codes are making a comeback is because you simply have to scan one to unlock your ride. The massive adoption of companies like Bird and Jump has also meant the mass (enforced) adoption of QR codes. And it turns out QR codes are great, I had no idea quite how well QR codes worked. My phone instantly recognised them and I was off scooting in a matter of seconds (heaven help other road users!).

I admit I don’t know the technical capability of QR codes but as your phone camera recognises them instantly without the need for any additional app installation I can see their usefulness spreading once the scooter takeover has ingrained them in urban culture.

By: Fleur Horner

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