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Image Recognition: Why It Will Never Beat QR Codes


QR codes have been pitted against every mobile technology that comes out. Snap Tags, Microsoft Tags, augmented reality, near-field communication, and just about any other kind of barcode there is.

However, QR codes have proven that they are here to stay. Maybe it is because it is free to use and generate. Not to mention that it serves its purpose of being able to bridge the offline and online worlds. It allows you to save time and money, too.

Now we are seeing another QR Code killer: image recognition.

Image recognition has a lot of potential. Instead of installing a mobile app and snapping a code, you just open your smartphone camera and point it at a picture. It will then load the Web page, coupon, image and other stuff that is placed behind the image. Much like a QR code only easier and faster.

On paper, it is a good technology. But in practice, there might be some problems with the whole image recognition thing.

For one, we do not usually go around pointing our smartphone cameras at all the photos we find, even on marketing materials. In short, it is very easy to miss.

A QR code, on the other hand, is very distinct. Just one look and people would know what it is and what to do with it. In the slim chance that somebody does not have an idea what a QR code is or how it looks like, they would see the QR code you have on your marketing material and get curious about.

Further, image recognition needs an Internet connection. So if you use image recognition on your marketing materials and there is no Wi-Fi access in the place or mobile broadband is not available, your customers will just be pointing their smartphones at it and nothing will happen.

QR code scanning applications on the other hand can get the URL you put behind a QR code and save it. This way, users can look at it later on when they have Internet connection back on.

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