QR codes pop up at river museum

By Erik Hogstrom TH Staff Writer

Scan the matrix-like bar code with a smart phone app, and up pops promotional information for a film at The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.

"It's the next thing in marketing," said John Sutter, the river museum's marketing director.

The river museum is introducing a technology called QR codes into its marketing efforts, with an eye toward expanded use throughout the Port of Dubuque facility.

Developed in Japan in the mid-1990s, the QR code stands for "quick response code," because smart phones can decipher information packed into its square confines at high speed.

"It's a relatively new tool, and we're excited about it," Sutter said.

Bar code-reading applications scan the code using the smart phone's camera feature, then render the information into a website on the smart phone's browser.

"We talked to our ad agency about creating a mobile (river museum) webpage for smart phones," Sutter said.

That webpage should be completed in January. Once online, QR codes can direct smart phone users to that mobile page.

"With these QR codes, people can use that instead of typing a URL into a browser," Sutter said. "It makes it easier for people."

Sutter envisions placing QR codes for the museum in print ads, movie posters and other promotional material. "People won't have to carry around a brochure," he said. "A QR code could go to a page where they can download a PDF of the brochure."

Eventually, the museum could incorporate QR codes into exhibits. A code could augment an exhibit by directing smart phone users to videos, event schedules or other websites.

"The possibilities are enormous," Sutter said.

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