By now it’s no surprise to you that the print industry has changed dramatically over the past decade. New inks, machines, green tech and processes mean today’s printers are continually upping their game to meet the needs of today’s hi-tech consumers.

Below are a few of our favorite advances in interactive print and how they work:

QR Codes

QR stands for ‘Quick Response’. QR codes are matrix barcodes that can be read by a camera. Free to create and use, they are the least expensive option to add interactivity to a printed piece.

QR codes need to be printed on items at a large enough size to be read by a camera (this depends on the quality of your phone’s camera).

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the effectiveness of QR codes, though this is largely due to the fact that they’ve been incorporated poorly into print.

Some tips when implementing QR codes:

  • Make sure it’s right for your audience.
  • Always have a clear call-to-action.
  • Make sure it leads to a mobile-optimized website.
  • Test thoroughly. There’s no changing the content encoded once it’s set.

NFC Tags

AKA “Near Field Communication”, is a wireless technology that enables data transmission between two objects when they are within inches of each other. NFC tags are typically small decals, either programmable or preprogrammed with the content of your choice. One of the easiest for user experience, simply tap a NFC enabled device on the tag, and it will take you to the programmed content, usually a website or video.

One of the problems with NFC is that it’s dependent on device support. Currently, only about 20% of smartphones are NFC capable, with the notable exception being Apple’s iPhone line. Also, the NFC tags themselves can be quite expensive depending on the size of the campaign. Once a NFC tag is locked, it can’t be altered, making them a one-time use item.

Augmented Reality

One of the newest and most exciting new technologies is ‘augmented reality’ (AR), such as Layar or Blippar. Augmented reality uses the device’s camera to recognize the printed piece, essentially turning your entire piece into a QR code! Because it works on visual recognition, items can be added to an AR campaign at any time before or after they are printed, multiple links can be used, and video or animation can be overlaid on the object. AR apps will also recognize and use QR codes and are available on both iOS and Android platforms.

While augmented reality may cost more than QR codes, they provide far better analytics and flexibility of the system. Depending on the size of the campaign, they compete favorably against NFC tags with far more compatibility.

Want to learn more about interactive print and how it can be incorporated in your next print project?

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