For those that don’t already know, a QR code (or Quick Response Code) is a type of 2D bar code used to provide easy access to information through a smartphone or tablet. While they seem to be ubiquitous at this point in modern technological history for in-depth product information and price comparison shopping, China seems to have a particular infatuation, using them for everything from sharing information to making payments to linking to videos and surveys. And it is this passion for QR codes that has prompted the Xilinshui village in Hebei to transform 130,000 Chinese juniper trees into the largest, and greenest, QR code in existence.
This giant bar code, measuring 227 meters (744 feet) along each side, is literally carved out of nature at relatively uniform heights so that it can actually be scanned from the sky by airplane passengers en route to Beijing. Once scanned, the code takes you to Xilinshui’s official tourism page on WeChat, China’s biggest messaging app. With all the coverage generated, people may also be able to scan the code from images thereby compounding the reach and effectiveness of the campaign exponentially.
While not a traditional digital screen or installation, this is an extravagant example of an old-school installation with exclusively digital implications for business. The bottom line is this: Whether digital or not, signage that is intended to translate directly to sales works best when it connects somehow to a personal device thereby customizing a consumer experience and stockpiling purchasing habits via analytics for future targeting, upselling, cross-selling, etc. This becomes increasingly true as seemingly everyone, including tribes that still exist in the third-world, have access to smartphones.
At the end of the day, points have to go to Xilinshui village in Hebei for spectacle if nothing else. After all, can you think of any other piece, digital or not, that you can actually interact with from 30,000 feet in the air?