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Last year, it looked like augmented reality apps were on the cusp of becoming mainstream as numerous ad campaigns and mobile apps started to use the technology. The same goes for QR codes. For the most part though, neither has been able to go beyond being a gimmick yet and, according to a new study by youth marketing and research firm Ypulse, even the members of the tech-savvy Millennial generation either have no idea what QR codes and augmented reality apps are or don’t see any value in these technologies.
According to Ypulse’s survey, high school and college students are mostly ignorant about augmented reality and QR codes. Only three percent of Millennials have tried AR apps more than 4 times, though a bit more (seven percent) seem to use QR codes somewhat regularly. Mostly, though, the fact that only about 11% of high school and college students have ever used an AR app shows that there is still a lot of room for these services to grow, but only if they can provide some value to their users.
QR Codes: a solution in search of a problem
As Kevin Marks pointed out just a few days ago, QR codes don’t really solve any real-world problem. Some people use them in lieu of a URL, but most people can’t identify what a QR code actually is and those who can now have to pull out their phones, start an app and then hope the app can scan the code correctly. Few people think this is a worthwhile exercise.
AR Apps: easy to use but not useful
As for AR apps, the majority of those students who actually tried them thought they were easy to use (34%) but just weren’t useful (53%). Indeed, the AR industry itself has, for the most part, relegated its products to novelty items that pop up little animations when users point their cameras at an ad or scan the horizon with their phones. There are clear technical limitations to what AR can do right now, especially until phones have the power to do real image recognition to the degree where AR can become more than just a video overlaid with crudely estimated guesses of where the next subway station might be.