Those who follow proximity technologies will have noticed a recent resurgence of QR codes, the matrix barcodes invented in 1994 by Denso Wave. Their use is growing again.

Notably, industry leaders such as Google, Twitter, and Samsung have recently added scanners.

This resurgence has been accelerated by the introduction of “touchpoint browsing.” This technology is based on the “Physical Web,” an open source project Google launched to allow interaction with smart devices. It addresses the user experience challenges that have held QR back – privacy, security, and speed. More than anything, users do not like the unknown of where a QR code leads.

QR codes have been declared dead year-after-year, and yet they don’t die. Their utility to the consumer and marketer is too great.

The core value of QR codes is that they allow visitors to point directly to an item of interest. This gives marketers a fast path to digitally respond to that request.

QR codes work from different distances, are broadly available, have relatively high consumer awareness, and they bridge physical and digital better than most available technologies.

Evidence of QR’s resurgence begins at the top. Social apps like Facebook’s Messenger, Kik, and Snapchat are now using proprietary versions of QR codes – Messenger Codes, Kik Codes, and Snapcodes.

More important, Snapchat and Twitter directly support traditional QR codes. Both Google and Samsung have begun supporting QR codes directly on their browsers.

Much of this renewed interest is due to the extraordinary success of QR codes in China through the WeChat messaging app.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, WeChat’s founder, Allen Zhang said that the “entry point for mobile internet is the QR code.” WeChat users use QR codes for everything from exchanging business cards to mobile payments to accessing promotions.

Now, incorporating QR Codes into the Physical Web with “touchpoint browsing” has the potential to make QR codes the global entry point for the mobile internet.

QR codes touchpoint browsing

Touchpoint browsing fundamentally changes the QR experience from one of scanning, waiting, and hoping the end destination has content of value, to an experience of instant previews of a QR code’s function.

This experience is enabled by a server that speeds and secures the transaction, enhancing that experience by adding intelligence to ensure that users get the most useful content possible.

Touchpoint browsing allows users to choose to interact with nearby content. It also incorporates other digital touchpoints, including Physical Web beacons and NFC tags.

Visible QR codes are easy to access through the camera on a user’s smartphone. Physical Web beacons can be accessed from further away and can be displayed as a list of selections. NFC tags work with a touch to launch an interaction with something in reach.

By this diversity, touchpoint browsing gives the marketer options to provide the best user interface for any interaction, while giving the consumer the simplest way to express a need.

Because QR, NFC and Physical Web beacons are all URL-based technologies, each is also compatible with one or more popular applications such as Snapchat, Twitter, or Chrome.

Where does QR go from here? With the user experience hurdles overcome, QR is primed for much broader adoption as tools for consumer-directed engagement.

Beyond this, they will likely play a key role as triggers for augmented reality interactions. One thing is for sure is that you can expect to see many more QR codes in the future.