What is the difference between a QR Code and an AR Code?

Monday 26th of April 2021 10:09:03 AM |

In the Western world, the popularization of QR Codes has been curtailed by health restrictions. In Asia, the use of QR Codes has grown since their introduction in the 2010s.

The evolution of the QR Code

In 1999 engineer Masahiro Hara, working for the Japanese company Denso Wave, invented the QR Code. This company produces industrial equipment for the automotive industry. Denso Wave developed this optical data transfer system for industrial purposes, then made it available to everyone through a license while retaining open patent rights.

As QR Codes were becoming more popular in Japan, many Japanese cell phones from the early 2000s were equipped to scan them. Asian countries followed this trend.

Over time, QR Codes became more visible in Europe and the US before becoming very popular with the launch of smartphones and their third-party barcode scanning applications.

Today, most smartphone manufacturers integrate QR code reading into their operating systems. For example, Apple which recently introduced a dedicated button to scan these codes in iOS and iPadOS.

Rumors are suggesting the arrival of an upcoming QR Code redefined by Apple. Only one experience has been revealed for the moment, involving the downloading of mini-applications called “App Clips” via the “App Clips Codes".

app clips codes

Although QR Codes have become popular in the West, Asia has been using them for much longer. When we were using them for websites access in Europe, Asian countries were using them to store consumer information and maintain industrial equipment.

Today, in the West these uses of QR Codes are growing, while in Asia we use them to pay for shopping, connect with social networks, and display augmented reality experiences.

From the QR Code to the AR Code

Over the last decade, the evolution of QR Codes has paralleled the evolution of information technologies because it is, above all, an optical recognition system linked (or not) to a remote server. It easily adapts to new digital uses.

QR Code is the abbreviation for Quick Response Code, its original name referring to the technology's industrial purpose. Today, various code systems have been created with this quick optical-recognition technology: bcode, BEEtag, Aztec Code, Data Matrix, EZcode,... and more recently Snapcode by Snapchat or App Clips Code by Apple.

In the age of web 1.0, a QR Code referred to a simple webpage; in the era of social networks and e-commerce, QR Codes allow data exchanges and payments; in the future Augmented world, QR Codes will give access to augmented reality experiences.

AR Codes are QR Codes that anchor augmented reality experiences.

AR QR Code packaging

Industrial AR QR Code

Love AR QR Code

What's Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is a technology that combines optical processes and spatial computing to display virtual elements in the user's field of view. It is also associated with acoustic technologies to create an immersive sound environment for the user.

To understand the process of displaying augmented reality, you should be familiar with 4 concepts:

  • AR Device: There are already many AR-compatible devices on the market. Today, the number of AR-compatible smartphones is estimated at over 2 billion. Consumers augmented reality glasses will arrive on the mass market this year. The big tech companies own their hardware ecosystems, which facilitates the development of immersive AR renderings. Apple is one of the most advanced companies when it comes to AR rendering with ARkit. Then come Google (AR Core), Microsoft (Hololens), Samsung, and Huawei. Recently, Facebook, the social media company, announced plans to develop future Augmented Reality devices and Metaverse. It follows their Virtual Reality plan after the takeover of the company Occulus in 2014. The strategy of Facebook/Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg is to create the VR/AR ecosystem by developing VR headsets first, then jump into the creation of an AR ecosystem once hardware technology is ready.

  • AR Content: Today, millions of users use AR daily for games or photo/video filters, but they are a small part of the AR content available. As augmented reality use cases grow, many of our interfaces will be displayed in AR in the near future: computer screens, TV screens, theaters screens... Also, 3D recordings of events will provide new ways to interact socially. Microsoft's Hololens 2 headset has already shown us this AR possibility:

  • AR Rendering: Digital giants have been engaged in an ongoing battle over AR technology for more than a decade. They are also competing with the AR devices, as they must control various parameters of the AR rendering software. AR systems are typically integrated into proprietary operating systems, with the exception of the open-source format known as WebAR, which is designed to accommodate simple AR displays. AR.js is the most universal AR technology and can be displayed on most web browsers. However, more advanced AR rendering technologies are found on the high-end smartphones and tablets. Apple's AR rendering system ARKit is installed on nearly a billion devices and Google's AR rendering system, ARCore, is installed on a similar number of smartphones.

  • AR Anchoring: In an augmented world, the ability to locate augmented reality experiences will be essential. There are several types of anchors that could be used:

    - Anchoring in the direct environment: Enable users to display an AR experience in front of them (for example, an AR game).

    - Anchor via the longitude and latitude data reported by a device: For example, you could activate an AR content at a specific location in a city.

    - Anchoring by the recognition of objects, buildings, places, faces...: Already used widely on social networks. Can also be done with the WebAR technologies.

    - Ultra wideband anchoring: Apple has unveiled an AirTag accessory that is equipped with this technology. It is expected to display augmented reality in the near future.

    - AR Codes anchoring: The universal AR anchoring solution already widely used to access classic information via QR Codes. With the rise in AR technology, QR Codes are now being transformed into AR Codes to anchor AR experiences on products, membership cards, storefronts, tourist sites, websites,...

AR Code technology relies on AR anchoring, AR content and AR rendering. Once users scan the code with their AR devices, they are redirected to the appropriate AR content and rendering. The AR content is hosted on our AR Cloud server or on a third-party platform such as social media (Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.).

AR Code SaaS, 3 different AR renderings

3 types of AR Codes

1 - Immersive: Rendering: ARkit & ARCore / Content: AR Code Cloud server

2 - Social Media: Rendering: Instagram / Content: Instagram server

3 - Flying Over: Rendering: WebAR / Content: AR Code Cloud server


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