The Washington Post

QR code tattoo signals end of the QR code?

So you want a high-tech tattoo: something that speaks to your status as a blogger, a Tweeter, and an all-around Internet tastemaker. How about a QR code that, when scanned, displays a random image, video, or favorite tweet?

(Screenshot, YouTube )

QR codes are printed bar codes you can scan with your cellphone’s camera. When captured on a cellphone’s QR reader, they will take you to a particular Web site. Fred Bosch uploaded a video of his tattoo in action, displaying a dancing gif, a random phrase, and his most recent tweet.

Pretty cool, right? Well, not if you read any of the tech blogs that have recently pronounced the QR code dead.

QR users often complain that the codes are not consumer-friendly, the apps that scan them do not always work, and they’re just plain misused by people who do not understand them. Blogger Allison Boyer for Blogworld wonders if they are destined to be a “failed technology that we should put in the ‘it was a cool idea that never really panned out’ pile.”

QR codes have a few defenders — marketers are among the first to stand up for the idea. “It's the most widely adopted global standard by a huge margin, it's open source, it's easy and inexpensive for any marketer to deploy and track, and new smartphones are shipping with built-in QR capabilities — no app required,” writes Eric Anderson on iMedia Connection, a marketing blog. “When another solution beats those standards, sign me up.”

But when it comes to tattoos, which will be on your body presumably forever, an emerging technology that is almost certain to become obsolete within your lifetime may not hold up over the years. When the bearer of a QR code tattoo is 60 and the scanners have long been replaced with something more efficient, that tattoo will be a quaint but non-functioning reminder of simpler times in the first decade of the century.

That’s ok, Bosch. There’s always tattoo removal.

View Photo Gallery: Some who are inked have regrets. That’s where lasers come in. New technology is making the removal process easier, and more commonplace.
Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.


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