GPS may not always be the best or easiest option. Andrew Walsh reports on a project at the University of Huddersfield that uses QR codes to provide contextually sensitive information and training to students.
(The link is below, but you can also scan the QR code at the right to access the article from your mobile phone.)
Walsh A. 2010. QR Codes – using mobile phones to deliver library instruction and
help at the point of need. Journal of information literacy, 4(1), pp. 55-65
With the rise of smartphones that contain integrated GPS (Global Positioning System) chips, increasing numbers of devices are aware of their own location. For most libraries, however, taking advantage of this functionality to introduce services which “augment reality”, that is overlay physical reality with a virtual layer of information in users own devices, is unfeasible.
An easier alternative to full augmented reality is to use QR (Quick Response) codes in places that link to location or context appropriate information and resources, using information embedded in the codes that is translated and acted upon by a mobile device such as camera phone. QR (Quick Response) codes are matrix codes, like two dimensional bar codes, that are easily readable by the majority of camera phones using a freely downloadable or occasionally pre-installed application.
Within the library at the University of Huddersfield we have used QR codes to deliver context appropriate help and information to blur the boundaries between the physical and electronic world. We have developed mobile friendly resources to deliver information skills materials directly to our users at the point of need, linked by QR codes on printed materials and in appropriate locations in the physical library.
This article outlines the practical uses we have found for QR codes, gives preliminary results of how those have been received by our library users in our pilot study and highlights the reluctance of many students to engage with this technology, which may need further investigation. It also looks forward to the potential use of alternative technologies such as RFID to deliver similar types of information at the time and place of need that may not share similar barriers to entry with QR codes.