March 2, 2011
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
QR Code provides fast break to Web sites, sports stats
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – You may have noticed squares with seemingly random black-and-white patterns recently on your bills, magazine advertisements and even Slippery Rock University enrollment and sports publications and wondered about them. Were they some sort of government tracking device or ink smudges? No. The bar codes are a technology many organizations, including SRU, are using to connect people with each other and to multimedia digital content.
The squares, called QR (Quick Response) Code, are a 2-D barcode that can be scanned by a smart phone’s camera to transfer information. Depending “on the type of code it is, it might direct the viewer to a Web site, make a phone call, deliver a vCard or more,” according to Fast Company magazine. There are free QR reader applications available for all mobile platforms.
The University was an early adopter of the new technology and began using the codes last fall, said Rita Abent, executive director for University Public Relations.
“We started placing the QR Code on select enrollment materials and a few performance posters. When scanned, the QR Code would take viewers to an appropriate Web site for more information,” Abent said. “We’re just in the infancy stage of exploring all the possibilities.”
SRU’s Office of Sports Information began printing the codes in all University’s game-day programs last fall.
QR Code is already giving Rock sports fans many advantages; smart phone users don’t even have to open their browser to obtain information about a game they’re watching. A basketball fan at a game at Morrow Field House, for instance, simply scans the QR Code once, and the code takes the user to a Web page with live stats. The live stats refresh every few seconds, so he or she doesn’t need to do anything else.
Jonathan Holtz, SRU assistant sports information director, inputs the statistics into a computer-scoring program and feeds them through an FTP server to go out to the Internet, which is what people see when they look at the live stats Web page.
“You can sit in the stands with your phone open and you can follow along with the game,” he said. “After every basket, in a matter of seconds, you’ll see the score updated on your phone and you’ll see all of the statistics updated on your phone.”
Holtz said he has heard from a few fans that appreciate the real-time technology. “Now that you’re seeing them on every single one of our game programs, more and more people are using them,” he said.
Sports Information, which also maintains a steady presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, is ahead of the technology pack when it comes to QR Code. The codes are also used to drive users to videos, specific text or other data they want to share.
“In the aspect that we’re using them with Sports Information, I don’t know of any other universities that are using them like this,” Holtz said. “I talked to 15 or 20 sports information directors back in beginning of the fall to try to gauge whether or not anybody was going to be using them this year, and the response I got was ‘no.’”
The University will add QR Code to at least seven recruitment brochures this fall to drive prospects to the Web site and provide other connections, said Amanda Yale, associate provost for enrollment services. Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.
“It is something we are excited about,” Yale said. “It shows that the institution is keeping up with technology and trying to reach students where they are, which is using hand-held devices to communicate with friends and obtain information.”
Yale said the technology could also capitalize on the prominence of social media. For instance, QR Code in orientation materials could be used to send new students to SRU Facebook or Twitter, helping students develop new friendships.
“We want to build on the presence of Facebook and other social sites,” Yale said. “From what we can see, students like the opportunity to connect online and chat with other students. It gets them to see the institution from another perspective.”
Studies show Millennials – Americans born between 1981-1990 – prefer to use online technology to obtain information. QR technology has great potential for bridging the generation gap and connecting students with key contacts.
“QR will allow SRU to further interact with students based on generational trends in the digital age,” said Simeon Ananou, associate provost for information and administrative technology.
Erica Leslie, an SRU elementary education major from Connoquenessing, said the University’s instincts are right on target. She expects QR Codes to be a hit.
“This type of technology is where everything is going, and we are used to having things right away,” she said. “Kids will love it, mainly because it’s quick and easy.”
While not a new technology, QR Code is becoming more popular as iPhones, Droids and other portable devices saturate the market. DensoWave, a division of Toyota, developed the code in 1994 to facilitate inventory. They were also initially used for tracking parts in automobile manufacturing, but are now used in broader applications, including many convenience-oriented applications. QR Code appears in magazines and on signs, buses, business cards or just about any object in which users need high-speed information.
Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader can also scan to wireless networks or obtain contact information. Users can also generate and print their own QR Code for others to scan by using one of several QR Code generating sites.
QR Code includes information in both a horizontal and vertical axis. Compared to regular bar codes, this allows for the embedding of larger amounts of information.