One of the things we love about QR codes is how versatile they are. We have written about how these codes can be used to add value to packaging, share messages about public safety and even disseminate tourist information. The most recent application of QR codes which we think is excellent comes from a new campaign supported by The Reading Agency and Random House. The Reading Agency is a UK-based charity that makes books and reading accessible to everyone. It has periodically tied up with libraries across the country in an effort to inspire more people to read. This time the charity, along with publishing firm Random House and a number of public libraries, has organised a QR code treasure hunt for children.
The hunt is based on author Simon Mayo’s children’s books Itch and Itch Rocks and reflects the adventures of Itchingham Lofte, the teenaged, science-loving protagonist of the two novels. Young people, armed with smartphones, download an app and then follow instructions given to them by librarians. The hunt is designed to take the participants on a quest through the whole Periodic Table, with hints that relate to the different elements. The final clue will lead the children to a website where they can participate in a competition to win signed copies of the book, as well as a chemistry set.
A campaign such as this is a great way to promote the reading habit among children and also to stoke their curiosity on subjects such as science. By using QR codes and letting children discover clues by themselves, the campaign promotes a high level of interactivity and gives the participants a greater sense of fulfillment – something they might not have felt had they been merely told to read more books. Also, by encouraging children to visit libraries during the course of the treasure hunt, the campaign is introducing them to the joys of visiting and reading in libraries. We can safely say that this is one of the better non-commercial uses of QR codes we have seen in a while.