While I get most of my news from the Internet, I do subscribe to various print periodicals, one of which being Entertainment Weekly. I was intrigued to see that they are employing a new level of interactivity in their magazines for readers with Smartphones. By using barcodes that can be “scanned” in various advertisements and articles, the reader can view content on their Smartphone’s mobile browser, linking them to websites, movie trailers, blogs, and more.
Microsoft Tag is the technology being utilized to give readers with Smartphones the ability to “scan” a barcode (taking a picture with the Smartphone’s camera) delivering interactive content to the phone. The app is available for most Smartphones; I used an iPhone running iOS 4 to experiment with the technology.
Installation is simple enough. For any Smartphone, point your mobile browser to https://gettag.mobi and the website will detect your model of Smartphone and get the right version of the app downloaded immediately. For the iPhone, you can just search for “Tag Reader” in the Apple App Store to find it. Once installed, the app walks you through some simple instructions and you’re ready to scan.
The technology utilizes a High Capacity Color Barcode, or HCCB, which utilizes a new type of barcode that employs four colors in a five by ten grid. To best utilize the Smartphone camera as the input device, the barcodes can vary in size, so that a tag on a real estate sign could be much larger to accommodate a user driving by, or smaller for publication in magazines or flyers that can be held in one’s hand. The tags are essentially website links, so that the different barcodes direct the Smartphone’s mobile web browser to predetermined links, much like the technology that is employed in the many link-shortening utilities available, like bit.ly, tinyURL, and others. In using the Tag technology, the businesses utilizing them can track the traffic driven to the website by that tag, which can be very useful when determining the effectiveness of an advertising campaign.
What’s great about Microsoft Tag is that anyone can use it for free. Users can scan a tag on their Smartphone and normal data usage rates apply. You can create and distribute tags for your personal or business content at no charge, you just need a Windows Live ID and you can sign up on the website. There are some guidelines for implementing the tags for different types of media, so I would advise reading the documentation first. To introduce you to this new interactive technology, I’ve included a tag here that will direct you to my business website contact page, just install the app, scan it, and see for yourself!
In the “old days”, linking print media to interactive content online required someone to remember a company’s name, website, or other information, and then searching for it on your computer when you remembered. With the new Microsoft Tag technology, you can drive your potential customers to your content online instantly, something that most users can relate to in our short attention span society. If you would like to know more about Microsoft’s Tag technology and how it can benefit you, feel free to shoot me an email at email@example.com, or just scan my tag, it will send you to my website!