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Forget QR codes, it’s the age of AR

A glimpse of The Drum’s AR drumkit installation on the outside of its newly launched concept store, The Labs

Pre-Covid, QR codes were mocked as a gimmick, many of us doubting whether they would ever be widely adopted. As we now know, of course, it’s a technology we’ve come to rely heavily on, helping to revive society as we lift out of lockdown.

This shift in perspective and acceptance of the QR code has since led us to question whether its renaissance will pave the way for augmented reality. And with this in mind, The Drum painted a giant AR-activated drum kit on the outside, street-facing wall of its newly launched innovation space, The Labs.

Painted in The Drum’s trademark color palette of red and white, the mural resembles the publisher’s enlarged logo and transforms into a musical instrument through the power of AR. Blending AR and QR technology, passers-by can use their phones to scan the QR code on the door to activate the AR technology and be able to play The Drum’s virtual drum installation.

Why is now the time for AR?

The QR code has helped kickstart the hospitality and events sectors throughout the pandemic, the little squares making ordering food and drinks more manageable and hygienic for restaurant goers. The touch-free medium means that they can order and pay from their own phones.

Venue check ins also rely on QR technology, allowing attendees to quickly register their details so that they can be easily notified if they have spent time in a Covid-positive space, the NHS’s Covid app notifying them if they need to self-isolate through its in-built Track and Trace system.

All of these interactions mean that people are becoming increasingly used to using their phones as a way of interacting with the world around them.

AR has largely been used as an entertainment feature, but as more people accept and feel safe using QR technology via their own devices, it may transform the way people view AR.

AR depends on the prerequisite that people carry their smartphones around and have in-built camera features – which are the same requirements for the QR code. The widespread use of QR technology has fast-tracked how comfortable people feel about using technology to access new information, especially as it emerges as a convenient, stress free and well-suited solution to navigating this period.

AR might be ready for a resurgence, but much like most things as we veer out of the pandemic, an element of trial, error and experimentation is inevitable.

Which is why it was only apt for The Drum to feature it on the side of its Labs building, as a way to explore and present the experimental nature of the concept store.

James Sparke, founding partner at Make Associates, was behind its conception and installation.

Click here to find out more about The Drum’s new concept store, The Labs.

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