Seeking interactivity for outdoor mural (QR codes need not apply)
June 5, 2016 7:34 PM   Subscribe

We're working with an artist to have a mural painted in our neighborhood that will depict some interesting, historic things about the area. We also would love for people to be able to whip out a phone, snap a pic of an icon below each part of the mural, and see a video depicting that event/person.

We don't really want to time travel back to 2010 and use QR codes. Also a little wary of using some obscure app that might accomplish this ( is one we've found), but also that might one day disappear from the app store.

Is there a great app out there that might work for this, or a QR code alternative?
posted by steve.wdc to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
NFC chips?
posted by notyou at 7:40 PM on June 5, 2016

If you're set on scanning codes, you really should use QR codes. They're so 2010, but they're also the only widely used code system that's not tied to a single app or company.

I'm not sure that viewers are going to be willing to install a special app to scan codes. You might consider buying a domain and having easy to type web addresses like below the mural that forward to your videos.
posted by gregr at 7:42 PM on June 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yeah the answer to "How to do this?" is "QR codes" as goofy as they are. There are some neat beacon things you could do (examples from libraries) but they'd require people to already be using the software which is probably NOT something a tourist would do unless there were coupons or something. I concur that a neat short URL to a responsive website that had the videos embedded might be the way to go. There are a ton of top level domains that might work and it would be using something people already had on their phones.
posted by jessamyn at 7:57 PM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know how to create them, but it's evidently possible to do QR codes in colors, or with designs embedded in them, or cleverly incorporate them into the larger context. Perhaps your mural artist could do something in that same vein.
posted by Dilligas at 9:58 PM on June 5, 2016

Plenty of people don't have a QR code app on their phone and won't bother to install one — let alone some other kind of app that you might like to use. Instead, I'd go for short URLs.
posted by actionstations at 12:42 AM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Uhm, you could maybe use something like Traces, but then you have to overcome the pretty significant barrier of having viewers download a brand new app.

If you're really set on having URLs somehow embedded into the mural, I think Dilligas' suggestion of cleverly incorporating these codes into the design of the mural is the strongest.
posted by nerdfish at 3:30 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Aurasma was purchased by HP, might stick around. Their facebook page seems fairly active.
posted by at at 1:56 PM on June 6, 2016

Speaking as someone who likes to learn more about things without pulling out my cell phone, maybe a plaque next to the mural with some explanatory text would be a good idea? I've seen some that offer a visual key that I find especially nice to use, along the lines of this one. You could even put a QR code on it for people who want to dig deeper without it looking out of place.

Also, if I am going to be pulling out my phone, I much prefer scanning in a QR code to typing in a web address, but have both in case they don't have an app for scanning barcodes.

(And please don't overcomplicate this into an aesthetic thing. You have information you want to communicate; make sure it's done clearly.)
posted by Aleyn at 3:20 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also consider that most people with a cell phone are going to have a limited amount of bandwidth and a data cap on their plan, so a video may not be the best medium to use to allow them to find out more about a thing.
posted by Aleyn at 3:23 PM on June 6, 2016

How about a "call the wall" phone line with the # incorporated into the mural. You won't be able to do videos, but you can do audio excerpts on the phone line.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:17 PM on June 6, 2016

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