QR Codes Aren’t Dead Yet
June 21, 2013 Editor 0
My favorite mobile device isn’t my phone, my iPad, or my car. It’s my Canon digital SLR camera. What makes that camera different from all the others Canon makes is not its serial number, but a QR code like the one on the left, called a TalkTag. Canon didn’t put the code there. I did. For both of us.
Think of the TalkTag as a cloth on the table I’ve set between Canon and myself — a table across which we can both share whatever we like. (What matters is not the QR code, but the table itself. There are many other possible tablecloths, all of which can also be TalkTags. More about the QR code choice below.) For example, I can share links to all the photos I’ve shot with the camera, or notes to service people saying, “Be sure to fix the fracture in the eyepiece lens.” Canon can share and update the owner’s manual and service records, provide links to firmware updates, make lens recommendations, or share whatever makes sense for both of us.
In addition to Canon, other parties sitting at the camera’s table might include the retailer, the repair center, and anybody else I welcome — such as the person who finds the camera if I lose it. If that person scans the QR code on my camera today, they will see a public-facing message saying it’s my camera, with instructions for reaching me. (In fact this has already happened once.) Messages back and forth are also private and can take many forms, including texts, instant messages, email, phone calls, or whatever.
The camera’s table sits in a virtual cloud, running on an operating system called CloudOS, which is programmed with KRL, or Kinetic Rule Language. The OS and the language are open-source, and the brainchildren of Phil Windley and his team at Kynetx, a start-up in Utah. Phil is the former CIO of Utah and a veteran entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in computer science. His ambition with CloudOS is not modest. “I want the products I buy to be under my control and connected to the companies that made and sold them, so we can keep each other informed, work together, and learn from each other.”
As Phil sees it, this does not require that every product have built-in smarts, but that they have their own clouds in virtual space — clouds accessible through TalkTags. These clouds can be as smart or as dumb as we need them to be. If manufacturers are also smart, they’ll put a TalkTag QR code next to the serial number. That way they set the table for a two-way relationship with the customer — a table the customer will buy along with the product.
The manufacturer, in fact, can make that table an integral part of the experience of owning the product — especially if the company actually listens to the customer, and engages in respectful dialog with the customer.
Now, about QR codes. Most of us are familiar with them as marketing gimmicks: “robot barf” in the corners of ads. But those gimmicks are early experiments, like much of what we saw with domain names and URLs in 1995. In fact there is no limit to what QR codes can do. Denso Wave, which owns the patents on QR codes, chooses not to exercise them, and they are already an ISO standard. As a result, QR codes are free to generate boundless uses, such as the one I describe here.
What actually matters here is that products become platforms for relationships, rather than just a SKU deposited at the end of a distribution chain.
My camera’s cloud is just one among many others in my personal cloud. Think of my personal cloud as “The Internet of Me and My Things,” containing the clouds of everything I own. TalkTags on my things give me a table to talk across with the companies that made or sold me those things.
This makes the personal cloud a platform for VRM (Vendor Relationship Management). VRM lets customers scale many relationships with many companies, the same way a company can scale many relationships with many customers through its CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. When the two connect, CRM for the first time becomes a way for a company to truly relate, directly, with customers. That is, talk to them, two-way, as equals. This will prove far more useful than today’s CRM techniques, which are conversational only in the scripted and controlling manner of call centers.
Once products themselves become platforms for relationships, companies will get much better market intelligence, in addition to genuine loyalty. And once personal clouds (and components such as TalkTags) become widespread and standardized, all CRM systems will have one simple way to relate to customers, rather than as many different ways as there are companies in the world. (Which today is another severe inconvenience for customers and companies alike.)
This will cause a profound shift in the marketplace: one in which relationships between demand and supply become both personal and real — also, live and mobile.
Cloudstore, Kynetx, Personal, Respect Network and other personal cloud developers are committed to making these clouds as open and interoperable as possible, so the network effects will be as vast and uncontained as what we got from the PC, the internet, and the smartphone, when each of those grew from niche to mass adoption.
And, just as the PC, the internet, and the smartphone led to more personal empowerment and freedom and opened vast new marketplaces, “The Internet of Me and My Things” will do the same. The difference this time is that every product can become a platform — for real relationships, rather than relationships in name only.
- Facts, trends and challenges in modern software development
- West meets East: Bridging local artisans with Western markets
- Improved small ruminant value chains in Ethiopia focus of new Livestock and Fish project
- How to Break Up with Your Mentor
- Open Innovation Tackles NCDs in Africa
- Register Now for ICTD 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa
Subscribe to our stories
- SL Crowd Green Solutions September 21, 2020
- Digital transformation in the banking sector: surveys exploration and analytics August 3, 2020
- Why Let Others Disrupt You? Take the Smart Self-Disruption Journey! August 3, 2020
- 5 Tips for Crowdfunding During the Pandemic August 3, 2020
- innovation + africa; +639 new citations August 3, 2020