by Christos, live from Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona
On the third day of MWC, we had the chance to meet the team behind Ubleam.
This French venture looks like quite a gamble: to consign QR codes to oblivion in favor of ″bleams″, colored circular tags with a logo in the center that can be personalized by the client. Arranged around the central logo are points which form the code, strictly speaking.
At a time when everyone is talking about NFC, the decision to launch a new standard may seem like a risky move, but NFC is limited by some constraints which bleams are not affected by: the maximum distance for using NFC is just a few centimeters, and NFC is currently only available on a very small proportion of smartphones. Lastly, NFC tags are not as accessible as they may appear to be.
One can easily imagine the two technologies, NFC and Bleam code, working side-by-side with each other, and depending on the situation, even complementing each other. And what about QR codes in all of this, I hear you say? As an occasional user of these codes, I’ve always found there to be a flaw: their ugliness (to put it politely).
There are just as many applications for bleams as there are for QR codes, which have been downloaded in vast numbers by smartphone users, but they have two key advantages:
1. Easy tag capturing, as the technology behind ubleam means that codes can be scanned from a greater distance than for QR codes, from different angles and even on curved surfaces, which is impossible to do with a QR code.
2/ the tag content can be customized with the company’s logo or a logo showing the purpose of the tag when you scan it with a smartphone (for example, a dollar sign, shopping basket, or euro symbol to show that it is a “tag to pay”). One can also easily imagine a soda or beer brand launching a competition where users would scan the company logo on the bottle cap (the company’s logo being at the center, of course), with prizes to be won for users who manage to find the correct code.
As in the example given opposite, the logo and the code points can make the tag appear more aesthetically pleasing, and would allow them to be displayed more easily on objects such as wine bottles, to allow more information to be obtained regarding a vineyard, producer, or grape variety, without spoiling the appearance of the label.
Connoisseurs of beautiful packaging would most likely appreciate the innovation.