Towards a Robot Readable World

Posted by on January 3rd, 2012

Matt Jones of BERG, last seen here on the subject of the Demon-Haunted City, talks in this brief video about designing a robot-readable world:

via bryce vc

Kinect & Arduino hacked together to create navigation system for the blind

Posted by on March 20th, 2011

From Switched:

YouTube Preview Image

Created by Michael Zöllner and Stephan Huber from the University of Konstanz, NAVI (or Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired) allows the blind to easily navigate an environment and avoid obstacles with tactile feedback via a vibrating belt, and audio cues delivered over a Bluetooth headset. The Kinect is mounted on a helmet and feeds video and depth data to a laptop worn on the back. The laptop then triggers vibrations in the Arduino-controlled belt to alert the wearer to nearby obstacles, and announces directions and the location of obstructions over the Bluetooth ear-piece. The system can also read QR signs to alert the wearer of their location.

via @tcarmody

PSFK’s Future of Mobile Tagging

Posted by on January 21st, 2011

Via core77:

Whether you use QR codes or not, its undeniable that mobile tagging has become an integrated part of the marketing landscape. Popping up in print advertising and corporate-sponsored event/experiences, there still seems to be a lot of confusion about the application and usage of mobile tagging in delivering a more comprehensive marketing and retail message. PSFK just released a great “Future Of” report exploring some key trends in the field and interviews with experts an innovators in the field.

Golfstromen: QR cloud project

Posted by on November 29th, 2010


The QR cloud project is a recent temporary installation by the amsterdam based design group golfstromen. The project began in july 2009 and is still running in the west end of their city. the project consists of embedded QR codes in the urban environment, linking to pieces of artwork. the project features seven large QR codes that when photographed on a web-ready cell phone link viewers to small stories, poems or proverbs by dutch writers and poets. Each written piece was commissioned for the project as a short inspirational message to users. The QR codes were placed on a soon to be demolished building and focus on making the public aware of QR codes in contexts outside advertising.

Picture and words from DesignBoom.

Lab craft: digital adventures in contemporary craft

Posted by on November 3rd, 2010

The fantastical becomes real:

Imagine objects three-dimensionally printed from a bed of nylon powder; shapes appearing to seamlessly morph and merge with each other; and new forms randomly self-generated by computer software. Lab Craft, a new Crafts Council touring exhibition, presents the imagined as real objects.

Curated by design commentator Max Fraser, the exhibition features 26 of the most experimental names in craft and design, each of them combining traditional craft skills with the use of cutting-edge digital technologies.

One of my favorite pieces shown:


    In this vessel, Eden likens the symbolic surface decoration on an ancient Chinese ceremonial wine vessel to the encoded information of a QR code. The vessel’s unique QR code forms the footprint of the piece, which is created by a 3D printing process, and so runs throughout the form

Words, pictures and links via See the exhibit in person at Turnpike Gallery, Leigh until December 18th.

QRCodes Make Building Transparent

Posted by on January 21st, 2010

In a mashup between some of my favourite sexy technologies, Qosmo and architects teradadesign have transformed  Tachikawa’s N Building into a QR-branded, augmented, fishtank of an building.

The building’s facade is imprinted with QRCodes that when scanned with a AR program allows viewers to peek inside the building and see animated versions of the movements and activities of those inside.  People inside the building are tracked via GPS and their tweets are transformed into thought balloons hovering over their heads.

N Building from Alexander Reeder on Vimeo.

[Via Creative Applications]

Sandcastle QR code

Posted by on August 13th, 2009


QRC Destination Unkown

Posted by on August 10th, 2009

Found in the secret Doktor Sleepless community (you are a member, right?):

Whomever scans the QRC code and gets a web address, please put it in the comments so all our readers can follow where it leads. Thanks!

Barcodes for the rest of us

Posted by on July 28th, 2009

From MIT news:

The ubiquitous barcodes found on product packaging provide information to the scanner at the checkout counter, but that’s about all they do. Now, researchers at the Media Lab have come up with a new kind of very tiny barcode that could provide a variety of useful information to shoppers as they scan the shelves — and could even lead to new devices for classroom presentations, business meetings, videogames or motion-capture systems.

The new system, called Bokode, is based on a new way of encoding visual information, explains Media Lab Associate Professor Ramesh Raskar, who leads the lab’s Camera Culture group. Until now, there have been three approaches to communicating data optically: through ordinary imaging (using two-dimensional space), through temporal variations such as a flashing light or moving image (using the time dimension), or through variations in the wavelength of light (used in fiber-optic systems to provide multiple channels of information simultaneously through a single fiber).

make your own QRCode stamps with Shapeways

Posted by on July 13th, 2009

3D printing service Shapeways are now offering QRCode stamps, so you can do cool stuff like this:


Here’s how they did it:

1. I went to a QR code generator, typed in the URL and got my QR code.

2. I opened the saved image in the Gimp and flipped it to horizontal(under image-transform).

3. Uploaded it to the Shapeways Stampmaker, ticked the for use with light box and ordered it for $25.

4. Shapeways 3D prints the stamp and ten days later I get it, and now I can stamp my QR code anywhere.

Which get’s me thinking, maybe we should try that first homework assignment again.

QR Codes get Stylish

Posted by on May 16th, 2009

Plain black and white codes aren’t enough for some people, they need style:

“QR Codes are the bar codes of the future, linking online and physical graphics to websites and multi-media. For the most part, the codes have still maintained an abstract look akin to their predecessors. A newly released designer QR symbol, produced by Tokyo based creative agency SET is looking to change all that with a stylized remake of the standard code. Mixing design with technological innovation, SET teamed up Takashi Murakami with Louis Vuitton to create a distinctive code featuring one of the artist’s characters and the classic LV pattern. The agency hopes this will add much needed style and character to the bland world of machine readable codes”

Link via, words from site.

QRCodes that do moar

Posted by on February 27th, 2009

As regular readers know, we’re pretty into QRCodes on Grinding. From dating sites, to carpets to graffiti pirate radio stations to.. just about everything.  I thought by now we’d have documented most of the usages of this simple, but powerful technology.

And then those crazy Japanese come up with this:

“Over the Paper” content distribution

In the real world, the network is not always available, reliable, or the best means to install content to a mobile phone.

A printed QR code (2D barcode) on paper can hold the content itself.  Shoot it with a built-in camera and install the content on the phone.

This enables a simple but revolutionary paper-based content distribution through QR.

Previous usages of QRCodes have just been to encode some text and/or a URL.  Which is handy.  And simple.

But this is encoding a whole application into a picture!  Next-level stuff, that is both awesome and scary. Because while text is technically innocent, and URLs, despite physical malware drops, you can at least see what you’re clicking through; with this you could install anything that can run on a phone.

As far as I can tell, this isn’t out in the wild yet.  But it’s coming, mark my words!


Posted by on February 7th, 2009

My friend Skot Deeming has just come up with this neat design for the tx:style carpet design competition; QaRpet:

As a design concept, QaRpet becomes a physical link to virtual spaces, media content or perhaps even other physical spaces.

The integration of QR code generation into carpet tile design encourages the user to investigate further.

It adds an element of interaction to a space that otherwise has not existed previously. QaRpet pushes the functionality of traditional carpeting.

It transforms carpeted floor space into a multi media and interactive experience.

Pretty neat in my book. If you dig it, why not swing by and give him some votes.

Future Pirate Radio

Posted by on January 27th, 2009

This is just genius and shows how much space is left to be explored in joining different bits of technology together.

Presenting Graffiti Radio (Future Pirate Radio):

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I found a connection between graffiti and pirate radio.

Both of these art expressions hack into public facilities. In the case of graffiti, the hacker uses the wall. In case of pirate radio, the hacker uses public radio waves illegally. It can be said that pirate radio is sound graffiti and I would like to propose to combine these two methods of graffiti; The artist can spray a QR code (two-dimensional bar-code) in the street with a stencil. Then when people who find the graffiti take a snapshot of the code with a mobile phone they can find the radio station through the internet.

via MAKE

QRCode fence

Posted by on January 16th, 2009

From MAKE:

In Australia QR codes are used mainly in advertisements, but check out this take-back-the-medium piece by one of the folks at Radical Cross Stitch:

qrcode fence

QRCoded Homeless Tent

Posted by on October 10th, 2008

I have been in Japan for two weeks now, and I am struggling to get a proper handle on this place.

This photo of a homeless camp tent, taken by Cory Doctorow, comes a long way to summing up the contradictions of this place.

NFCs, tikitags; the Future is looking very Spimey

Posted by on September 9th, 2008

As the news out of Japan hinted, they’re already moving beyond the world of QRCodes. Just as the rest of us are starting to explore it with what we like to think of as ‘futurephones’ (or is it just me?).

And I was left with this question:

So what is different about this Near Field Communication? Is there some thin electronics being printed into the poster? More investigation is clearly required.

The obvious first stop is the wikipedia entry:

NFC phone readerNFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology which enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 centimetre (around 4 inches) distance. The technology is a simple extension of the ISO 14443 proximity-card standard (contactless card, RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device.

So it’s RFIDs being integrated into our phones; yeah, I think we all saw that coming.

Of course now I’m wondering when we’ll see this outside of Japan. And then Bruce Sterling tweeted: “Wondering how spimey “tikitag” really is. They’re looking mighty spimed.“.

And what does tikitag use? NFC:

tikitag uses high frequency RFID (Radio Frequent IDentification) operating at 13.56MHz. tikitag uses passive RFID tags and active readers. tikitag is also compatible with Near Field Communication, a standard based on HF RFID and being implemented in more and more mobile phones.

But enough with the text quotes, what does it look like? Here’s an example:
YouTube Preview Image

A simple, but powerful demo. For one, it’s far less obtrusive than having to scan the big graphic that a QRCode is. These can placed inside and behind things, so long as the reader can hit them.

And what sort of applications do they see for it?

tikitag applications

So just about everything in the modern consumer world then.

But we all just got QRCodes readers on our iPhones, N-Series Nokias, etc. They can’t be upgrading the tech already, can then? Of course they are:

What mobile phones are NFC enabled?

Today you can buy the Nokia 6131 NFC and in the near future as well the Nokia 6212 Classic. Other: BenQ T80, Motorola L7 (SLVR) NFC, Samsung SGH-D500E NFC, Samsung SGH-X700n (brick) NFC, Sagem-Orga my700X NFC, Nokia 3220 + NFC Shell and some Kyocera models.

So it’s just in new phones by most of the major makers then.

Alright kids, forget QRCodes then, get ready for NFC. I can’t wait to see what comes next; bring on the internet of things!

See Also:

QR Code Dress

Posted by on September 5th, 2008

    - photo via

This “Sema-Code Dress” by game-artist Marguerite Charmante (along with Wolfgeng Peter Schmiller) puts a typical QR code on the surface of the dress so that makes it possible to “scan” your potential dates before you ask them out.

Link and photo via

Just as the rest of the world catches onto QRCodes, of course Japan’s testing the next leap forward

Posted by on September 2nd, 2008

From Pink Tentacle:

Throughout October, selected test participants will be able to receive and view digital content such as movie stills and trailers simply by holding their NFC-compatible phones (containing NFC-USIM cards) next to the smart posters. Along with the digital content, users also receive an access code that, when transferred to a compatible Hitachi HDTV at home, allows them to view a WALL-E trailer in high definition (via Hitachi’s content distribution service).

The tests, which are designed to help the companies evaluate the effectiveness and potential of NFC smart posters as a promotional medium, could be a sign of things to come in the field of poster advertising. Should NFC smart posters become cheap and easy to produce, they have the potential to replace the ubiquitous QR (2D) code that commonly appears in Japanese advertising posters. NFC is seen as more convenient than QR code because the user does not have to scan a code and visit a separate website to view the data. Instead, digital content can be accessed directly with a simple swipe of the phone.

I am very curious to see how these work in the field, and since I will be over there in a month I can find out (hooray!).

We have had billboards with data in Australia for three years now, and I am sure they are elsewhere too. So what is different about this Near Field Communication? Is there some thin electronics being printed into the poster? More investigation is clearly required.

levelhead – the spatial memory game in a cube

Posted by on July 31st, 2008

Ah, games today. Check out this one, it is basically a world in a cube:

This is levelHead, “a spatial memory game by Julian Oliver“:

levelHead uses a hand-held solid-plastic cube as its only interface. On-screen it appears each face of the cube contains a little room, each of which are logically connected by doors.

In one of these rooms is a character. By tilting the cube the player directs this character from room to room in an effort to find the exit.

Some doors lead nowhere and will send the character back to the room they started in, a trick designed to challenge the player’s spatial memory. Which doors belong to which rooms?

There are three cubes (levels) in total, each of which are connected by a single door. Players have the goal of moving the character from room to room, cube to cube in an attempt to find the final exit door of all three cubes. If this door is found the character will appear to leave the cube, walk across the table surface and vanish.. The game then begins again.

This diagram shows the set-up:

levelHead set up

The best part is that Julian is releasing this as “a fully open-source project soon under the GPLv3 License”. So you can start building your own, just in time for Christmas!

thanks for the tip-off George Rohac, Jr.!