Thanks to a blog post from my fellow PR practitioner friend Neville Hobson (aka @jangles), I learned about Belon.gs, a Finnish start-up that is offering free QR (quick response) tag stickers that individuals can stick to their valuables.
I have written about QR codes several times before, having put them on my website, blogs and business cards, used them on conference presentations, and discussed their use on Wikipedia (QRpedia) and for corporate asset and landscape management, among other things. Within the B2B world of the architecture, engineering and construction industry, I’ve also seen people using QR codes on vehicles, to guide people around architectural walking tours, for version control of drawings and for linking to augmented reality views of 3D building models.
These barcodes are becoming increasingly commonplace and marketing people can find numerous uses for them, but also need to exercise some caution – as Pauley Creative’s Pritesh Patel pointed out last November (3 Reasons Why You Should NOT Use QR Codes), following his company’s earlier 10 ways construction companies can use QR codes.
Belon.gs launched earlier this summer. I signed up for the service (while it is free, I also made a donation) and its user-friendly, chatty interface guided me through the simple process of ordering some tags. My order was confirmed (“we’ll get to stuffing an envelope with your tags as soon as we can”), my order was despatched (“Your tags have been snugly packed into a pretty envelope, and one of our highly trained sea lions is well on its way to drop it off in the closest mailbox. How cool is that?!”) and earlier this week an envelope arrived from Finland with my tags.
Each tag is about the size of a postage stamp, and as well as the QR code has a short URL and a note to anyone reading the tag that there might be a reward if they report the lost valuable. I have started sticking the tags to various items (my laptop, a camera, my smartphone, a spectacles case, a dongle, and even one of my bikes) in the hope that, should the item get lost – or stolen then recovered – then the finder might be able to trace it back and return it to me (regular readers may recall I have form for losing property on a train).
The finder would be able to scan the QR code or input the associated link and see that a reward is offered for safe return of the item. Payment of the reward is via Paypal so that the loser and finder can remain anonymous (Belon.gs takes a 10% cut of the reward if paid), and the process works both internationally and multilingually. The free service appeals to me as an individual and an owner of a small business, but there is also a commercial Belon.gs service for organisations wanting to tag corporate items including those entrusted to their employees.