The Camera Phone As The Modern Time Clock?
By Mike Masnick, Thu Mar 03 02:45:00 GMT 2005

A new offering to use QR codes and cameraphones as a remote timeclock may not be that compelling, but it does show some of the potential for such systems that blur the lines of the digital and analog world.

QR codes are catching on in Japan as way for users with cameraphones to snap photos and get information sent directly to their phones. However, it looks like some are trying to go beyond that to offer different kinds of services based on QR codes. For example, King Jim is offering a QR code timeclock which is designed to make it easier for remote workers to "clock in." Rather than using a standard punch card or signing in electronically, the clock presents a QR code that the users snaps a photo of -- designating the times at which they check in or check out.

While it's not clear what the real benefit is to this sort of timeclock over, say, just having the person login to an electronic system or (if they must use their phones) simply sending a login message. However, it does show that some are really starting to experiment with other ways to make use of these kinds of barcodes for more than just information retrieval. The useful thing about QR codes (and various other cameraphone-related barcodes) is that it is a way to blur the boundaries between the digital and analog world, but using the cameraphone as a way to "click."

When the web was just starting out, it was mostly made up of static pages. A single click would just bring you to another page of information. It only started to become much more useful when more dynamic information and services were provided. QR codes may be developing in the same manner. Initially designed just to retrieve a bit of information, this example shows that some are considering ways to add additional services to QR codes to make them more practical for letting people overlay digital services on top of an analog world. While this example seems to just replicate what was already possible, other applications will start to offer possibilities that simply weren't possible before.