Quick Response Codes (those square pixellated barcodes that, when scanned by a camera phone, bring up information or link to a particular website) have moved into the world of bespoke fashion. Emma Cott, a Munich-based clothing label has launched a new collection of t-shirts enabling users of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace to take their profiles to the street, sporting an abstract code design on their chest. Visitors to emmacott.com can generate their own QR code (that links directly to the website of their choosing) and add it to their choice of t-shirt. It’s self-promotion made very simple.
Sporting these customised t-shirts, emblazoned with a personalised code and combined with optional slogans such as “Hire Me”, “Add Me” or the somewhat risk sounding “Date Me”, the social networkers among you can advertise your music, your skills or, hey, just your own plain self if you’re that way inclined, to anyone with the wherewithal to photograph your chest with their phone. (Just a word of advice: ensure they have internet capability first or otherwise they’re just, you know, taking a picture of your chest).
The QR code is the most recent step in the evolution of the one-dimensional barcode (familiar to most consumers as a series of vertical lines) and was created by Japanese corporation Deso-Wave in 1994. Deso-Wave wanted to design a code that allowed its contents to be easily downloaded and at high speed. Advertising billboards could provide direct links to additional information, such as where to buy a particular product.
Now the QR code is even being used in airports. The airline Continental are currently testing the two-dimensional encrypted barcode for boarding passes that can be printed online.
But perhaps the most creative use of the format was the Pet Shop Boys’ video that accompanied their Integral single. Tomato director Tom Roope’s latest venture, The Rumpus Room, created the promo for the song (which addressed issues of civil liberties and the ubiquity of CCTV) and incorporated pixel animations alongside numerous QR codes that viewers could snap from the comfort of their sofa, to be taken to relevant campaign websites.
Video for the Pet Shop Boys’ single, Integral, created by The Rumpus Room
Perhaps the more progressive of t-shirt wearers will follow the direction of Mssrs Tennant and Lowe, sporting designs linking to interesting blogs or the odd charity website, rather than simply directing people to a “wacky” MySpace design? We’ll see.