As print and online media continue to uncouple, it seems as if the two formats will become permanently distinct. But new technologies may begin to bring the two closer together.
QR codes, invented in Japan in the mid-1990s, are a sort of super barcode. Whereas barcodes are able to retain a limited series of numbers, QR codes can transmit much more. And for print, this means a fusion with digital media – the potential of which is still not fully realized.
Joe Marin, senior analyst of digital technologies for the trade group Printing Industries of America, told the Kane County Chronicle that QR will offer marketers and advertisers new opportunities for creating pamphlets, brochures, print ads and direct mail materials, while also enabling greater accessibility to companies' websites.
"This greatly extends the value of a printed page," Marin said. "This is print to web in a way that hasn't existed before."
With the development of smartphones and near-field communications technologies – small chips that can be installed in mobile phones and transmit small amounts of data over short distances – consumers will be able to scan print items with their phones to receive information about a product, service or even a news story.
"It's a hyperlink in the real world," Kyle Phillips, vice president for sales and marketing at Sir Speedy Printing, told the Chronicle. "This eliminates the false choice of having to decide whether to market by direct mail, by email or through a website. It integrates everything into one click."