AIGA’s Eye on Design has a great short article about how the pandemic gave a boost to QR codes in the West—and why this little code that everyone used to hate (me included) is here to stay.
To me, the most interesting part of the articles comes towards the end:
Shuya Gong, an interaction designer at IDEO’s CoLab, sees QR codes as a “humble technology” that hints at something bigger. For her, they fit into a filtered reality—a layer of existence sandwiched between the plainly visual world (traffic signs, typography) and the higher plane of things we can’t see (quantum physics, consciousness). She compares the technology to wifi: invisible to us, but detectable to computers.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the shape of the future we seem to be drifting towards: One in which most of our visible physical environment remains (broadly) the same, but innovations are layered on top.
It’s not so much about a sudden break in how we move or live, but rather how we interchange communication and ideas. That’s why technologies like alternative engines or hyper loops are a lot less interesting to me than the humble QR code and how it slips into our lives—not even centrally planned or mandated, certainly not controlled by anyone, but just eminently usable to fix a bunch of problems we didn’t previously consider problems (such as restaurant menus that are outdated the moment they get printed).