A visit to the cereal aisle of a US supermarket is always an overwhelming experience, as with each visit it appears that there’s even more choices to make. In this crowded field of breakfast foods, you need to stand out somehow, and why not with a QR code?
A new variety of cereal, Crunchy Nut from Kellogg’s, featured a QR code on the back of its cereal box as shown below:
Note there was not a QR code on the front of the box, and I discovered this when I went to buy the cereal. The detail of the QR code is shown below:
Upon scanning the code, you are taken to a mobile Web optimized site where it shows a video reinforcing its marketing message about eating the cereal day or night because “it’s morning somewhere.” I have visited the site a few times and I observed different videos.
This a good example of a presentation of a QR code as well as what it links to. In a prominent location, the message offers both the option to send an SMS message or to scan the code, and below it tells the cereal eater how they can get a reader app, and if they do so, they may be charged for it. In this case, Kellogg’s chose to call it a 2D bar code, and my guess all of this text was vetted by their legal department and thus it is called as such, as technically QR code is a trademarked name, but offered as an open standard.
Only if the cereal lived up to the quality of the QR code presentation – it was a little bland for my taste, and not that crunchy either, but I digress. The QR code won me over in this case.Build • Technology • Mobile Technology • QR Codes • QR Codes In Action • (6) Comments • Permalink
While I say I cannot predict the future, sometimes things are so glaring to some and not others, by pointing out you are opening eyes for some people. One of them for me is “a” next frontier in the use of mobile technology – to get beyond the corporate firewall and use all of the tools and data like you can do on a full computer. Note I say “a” next frontier, as it is out there, I just don’t know if it’s the “next” or “last” frontier.
Why do I believe this? Over the years I have managed public Web sites, corporate Intranets, Extranets, portals and knowledge management systems. I have seen how these tools, when used effectively, make people productive. I have also seen how when not managed properly they become a huge mess and waste of resources. Typically, there is a mix of these within most organizations, everything from advanced applications, to a PC under someone’s desk hosting a group’s Intranet Web site, to email.
Going Beyond Email
Using your mobile device to work as you would at work is long overdue. Most corporate workers who have a mobile device use it for email. But beyond email, there may be a limited amount of apps or data available to them. Mobile devices have Web browsers, but you may not be able to make a VPN connection within your company’s firewall. Not having this prevents you from accessing what you can do on your work computer, from your desk or away from it.
More and more email is being used to get around this lack of access. Have you ever asked co-workers or your admin to send you files or information you can’t get at? I see this all the time as friends – even my wife – have to do this in order to get what they may need for a conference call they have to make from a remote location. There’s no other way, especially if getting online with your notebook computer is not an option, or you don’t want to lug it (and power cables, etc.) around.
Going Beyond Mindsets and Existing Network Infrastructure
Shortly before his inauguration, there was buzz about how US President Obama wanted to carry a BlackBerry. In the end, he got one. It is not completely known what kind of security is in use with his device, but the bottom-line is it was achievable. My guess is it’s not out of reach for most companies.
Part of the issue with going mobile with your company information is a mindset it is not secure. This is where you need to go beyond your current infrastructure. As tablets and smarter phones hit the market and become more and more commonplace, the demands from staff will require both of these looming issues to be addressed.
Do I Need An App For That?
Once you go beyond the firewall, the fun begins. Some content and applications may already look great on a mobile browser. Some package applications may already have mobile-friendly interfaces, or even apps to access data. I recently saw a development tool for interfacing with CICS screens on an iPad. (If you don’t know what CICS is, its how most applications were developed on mainframe computers that allowed users to enter and query data. As many CICS screens are still alive and kicking today, thus the opportunity for such a tool). Then there’s the content and applications where you’ll need to either build or buy (or both) to access them outside of the office.
Access content and data in multiple formats on multiple platforms is an opportunity to drive innovation in your corporate Intranet and sites. Everything from comprehensive search to centralizing content to reaping value “dead” or unpopular content can be gained from this effort. As you go forward, build into your requirements mobile platform compatibility, whether for your own internal development or for your third-party vendors. Just think about taking an online training course on your mobile device while sitting in the waiting room for jury duty, and you get the power and convenience of extending the workplace to mobile devices.
Keeping Up With Small Businesses
Many small businesses have some of this capability already. Google Apps works well on Android devices. Salesforce.com has apps for many devices. QuickBooks Online has mobile versions of its full Web-based application. All of these are hosted, third-party services, which does not require the infrastructure to go beyond the firewall. As some larger businesses use Salesforce already, they have an advantage with the ability for their users to work on a mobile device.
Big Picture Thinking On Little Devices
Looking back on what I have presented, I covered a lot, and at a high-level, big picture perspective. As anyone who has worked in computer systems knows, the devil is in the details. But keeping in mind a roadmap to where you want to be, from the short-term to as far out as you can realistically plan, literally getting the information into the hands of those who need it will be critical and advantageous for any business. Let alone the opportunity for those who will be involved in making this happen, whether they build mobile hardware, platforms, apps or supporting software.
Do you agree on this future frontier of mobile? Are you looking forward to it? Are you using it today? Please share your thoughts in the comments of this post.Business • Technology • Mobile Technology • Strategize • Thrive • Web Development • (0) Comments • Permalink
On Sunday, February 13, 2011 the Grammy Awards will be held and broadcast on the CBS network in the US. To promote this, there are ads displayed on the “L” train platforms in Chicago, also known as the Chicago Transit Authority or CTA. Below is a photo of how 3 ad panels are displayed together.
On each panel there is a QR code. When scanned, it goes to a Web site called MusicIsLifeIsMusic.com, specifically to a page for the artist appearing on the particular ad panel. Below is a detailed photo of a QR code for an ad for Katy Perry.
Note I took the second photo before the first one – I first saw the ad panels which featured the second photo at a very narrow point on the platform and was only able to get the detail, where I was able to get a wider shot of 3 panels together, interestingly at the same station and in the 3 panel photo, there is not one of Katy Perry.
There’s a few unique aspects to these ads and how they use QR codes. As each panel has a different QR code, it can be determined which of the 3 was scanned. This can tell one of 2 things – either the person scanning has a preference to the particular artist, or they chose that QR code at random or because it was easier to scan. Also note the Grammy Award trophy in the QR code. As QR codes have built-in redundancy and can have degradation up to 30%, some part of the code can be replaced with another image. There is no magic to this – you have to make the change and test the heck out of it to make it effective.
These particular ads are positioned low to the ground. As a result, you need to bend down to scan, which may cause some not to do so, especially at the narrow part of the train platform where I was. Many times I see QR codes towards the bottom of an ad, which is unfortunate, as QR codes are not afraid of heights!
What do you think of this use of QR codes? Please share your thoughts in the comments of this post.Technology • Mobile Technology • QR Codes • QR Codes In Action • Strategize • (2) Comments • Permalink
Despite news and opinion out there regarding Nokia, one thing most everyone agrees with (realizing not everyone agrees with anything!) is that Nokia has some innovative designs for their mobile devices. This holds true for the Nokia E7, which I had the chance to get my hands on when I was in Berlin in November at Microsoft TechEd as a guest of Nokia.
Tomorrow, February 4, 2011 a new video is being released by Nokia on the design of the E7. However, I got a link to the video ahead of this release, and it is available for viewing now. You can view the embedded video below, or click this link to watch the Nokia E7 Design video on YouTube.
Thanks to the folks at WOMWorld/Nokia for sending me this sneak peek video link.
As to when the E7 will officially launch and be available in the US among other countries remains to be seen, unfortunately. Back in November, I was told it would be released “Christmastime” but shortly afterwards it was announced there were production delays. Once it is available, I hope to get my hands on an actual model and give it an actual run. In the meantime, this video will have to do.Build • Technology • Mobile Technology • (0) Comments • Permalink
There is no shortage of discussion on QR codes. Whether people are asking what the heck they are to weighing the merits of using them, QR codes are a phenomenon that is not going away any time soon. How far they go is very much part of the discussion.
QR codes tie the offline and online worlds with simplicity. By scanning them with your smartphone (or even Web cam) you will get information – from a URL to a full contact record to a short message. This is my definition, and there are many out there. But rather than focus on the ultimate definition for a QR code, I’d rather show how they are being used.
Starting today and every Wednesday I will show a QR code in action. Each post will feature a picture of a QR code I take over the course of my day. I will describe how it is being used, and of course provide any commentary as appropriate.
Watch for QR Codes in Action here at The Hot Iron as part of the regular RSS feed or by viewing just the QR Codes in Action posts. I welcome your comments and questions, and if you want to learn more how you can use QR codes for your business, please contact us at Dunkirk Systems, LLC.Technology • Mobile Technology • QR Codes • QR Codes In Action • Strategize • (0) Comments • Permalink
When I was preparing to attend the Microsoft TechEd Europe conference last week, I was hoping I would get my hands on the new, yet-to-be-released Nokia E7 smartphone. As TechEd is a business technology conference, and the E7 is being positioned as a business mobile device, I was pretty confident there would be an E7 or 2 available for me to try.
The good news is there was, however they were the personal devices of the Nokia staff who were there for the show and working at the booth. So where I was able to hold and try an E7, nobody handed me one and told me to walk around the exhibit floor and take it for a test drive. As a result, I had limited access, but enough to collect some initial thoughts and opinions which may be of value for others. I have also listed a number of things I would like to try out once the device is released. Interestingly, it was also the first time I had my hands on a Nokia N8, which came in handy for comparison of the 2 devices.
First, here’s my initial thoughts, and not necessarily in a priority order:
- Good size – The E7 has a decent-sized screen. When the keyboard is “stored” under the device, it fits well in your hand and is not too bulky. After sliding the keyboard out, it is practical to type and use while holding in my hands as well as placing it on a flat surface. It is also a bit larger than the N8, as you can see from this angled yet side-by-side comparison photo I took.
- Solid – A hallmark of Nokias is they are solidly built, and the E7 continues this tradition. When I attempted to slide out the keyboard for the first time, I was cautious as I didn’t want to do it with too much force. But once I did it and a few more times, I got the hang of it. The keyboard can take a little pressure on the slide mechanism.
- Decent keyboard – The keyboard is more like the N97 than the E75, which is a good thing. There are arrow keys rather than a joystick, which is preferred to me, especially on a touchscreen device. I say the keyboard is good, and to make it great would be to add an additional row of keys so I don’t have to press an “alt” key to type numbers. But it does have 4 rows of keys as compared to 3 on the N97.
- Memory – The E7 has 16 GB of memory on-board. I asked how much available memory was free on the device when it is shipped, and I was told it was about 14 GB, as there are core files and some audio and images and video shipped on the device. There is no memory card slot, and some have had issue with this. Personally, Micro SD cards are too darn small for my big hands. The E7 has a Micro USB connector, and with an adapter cable you can connect a USB Flash drive. I saw a demo of this – when connected, you can browse the Flash drive just as if was an inserted memory card. You can also run files off the Flash drive, including video and presentations, which to me looked seamless.
- Video – I saw 2 examples of this. First was a video file played off a Flash drive, and as I said above it looked fine. I also saw NHL Gamecenter, an app which shows clips of hockey games. I watched this both on the device as well as when it was connected to an HDTV using its HDMI out port. The video quality was very good on the E7 and good on the HDTV, though there was some pixilation. My assumption is this was due to the compression of the video itself as it is probably optimized to deliver over a mobile network. The photo below is of a game clip on an HDTV from the E7.
- Camera - The camera on the E7 is 8 megapixels, as compared to a 12 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens on the N8. When I asked about this, I was told part of the decision-making was the price of the device, and part was that in order to have the Zeiss lens on the N8, it extends from the back of the device, which if done on the E7 it would not be able to lay flat on a surface. This makes sense as you won’t always be holding it when typing.
So what did I want to do that I did not have the opportunity to? Here’s a few things:
- Take video and photos and look at them on my PC.
- Try reading text outside in sunlight and in a dimly lit room, as well as see how much I can adjust the text size.
- View PDF documents.
- Write and edit a blog post.
- Surfing the Web, including hitting various eCommerce Web sites.
In short, I would want to use it as I do my E72 device on a daily basis.
One last thought – orange would be my color of choice! It’s a unique color and the metallic color looks impressive, plus it will match my luggage.
I hope my initial thoughts are of some help. What are your thoughts on what you have seen and heard on the E7 so far?Build • Technology • Mobile Technology • (0) Comments • Permalink
After a whirlwind trip to Berlin, Germany for the Microsoft TechEd Europe conference and the opportunity to meet and query members of Nokia’s enterprise mobile team among other Nokia staff, I am back in the Windy City with a head full of thoughts and ideas.
As I get settled back and unwind from this learning experience, I will be writing more detailed posts on what I took away from the people I met over the last few days. Look for more information on Nokia’s next flagship device, the E7, as well as information on how it works and where ti fits in with everything else Nokia is working on now.
E7 Coming Soon
One piece of information I will share now is the answer to the most asked question of me to relay to Nokia staff – when the E7 is coming out. Their answer is Christmastime. It will be a phased global launch over the next few month, with availability in some countries by the end of 2010 and the rest soon after in 2011. Nobody told me which countries would be when, but it was inferred markets such as China and India would be in the first phase, and there was no specific indication when it would be available in the US.
In the meantime, I will share this photo of an E7 hooked up to an HDTV – it has an HDMI out port and with a cable it can be hooked up to any HD device with HDMI input.
Special thanks to Nokia and WOMWorld/Nokia for sponsoring all of my travel, accommodations, hospitality and admission to TechEd. Rhiannon from WOMWorld/Nokia was a gracious host and facilitator and did an excellent job ensuring all was coordinated, especially keeping us well fed. It was also great to again see Dennis Bournique from Wap Review and meeting Craig Richards from Geek Computers. Kudos to the Hotel Berlin, Berlin, an excellent hotel with great service.Technology • Mobile Technology • Strategize • Web Design • Web Development • (2) Comments • Permalink
As you read this I will be frantically packing my gear and even some clothes for the Microsoft TechEd Europe Conference in Berlin, Germany next week, from November 8-10. I have been invited to the conference by Nokia and the people at WOMWorld/Nokia.
For those not familiar with the conference, it is one of many such global events held my Microsoft every year. I attended a few back over a decade ago when I was working on the KWorld project at KPMG and Microsoft was a major partner with us. Sessions and speakers talk about the current state and future direction of technology and how Microsoft products fit into those directions. In short, it's a geefest! My connection through Nokia is around enterprise mobile technology, otherwise known as how businesses are using smartphones and other portable wireless devices.
Questions And More Questions
In addition to the speakers and breakout sessions I will be attending, I, along with Dennis of Wap Review, will have the opportunity to have face-to-face Q&A sessions with several Nokia executives who work with enterprise mobile. I am eager to hear what they have to say, and of course already have a list of questions in mind. If anyone reading this has any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments.
This should be an interesting conference, and a great learning experience. Nokia soon will be releasing its E7 device, the enterprise version of its recently launched N8 device. I am of course hoping to get my hands on an E7, as well as talk about it and the entire enterprise mobile arena, which is certainly a busy place.
An Amazing City
Of course I will be taking in some of Berlin. I visited the German capital several years ago, and had a great time. The mix of culture, history and modernism makes it a must-visit place. Not to mention some great chocolate!
Watch The Hot Iron and @thehotiron and #tee10 – the conference’s hashtag - on Twitter for updates on the event and any notes and news from the conference. I will write a recap when I get back. I should close with the fact that Nokia is sponsoring my trip, and here’s more information about my relationship with Nokia which is being stated specifically to keep the US Federal Trade Commission off my back!Announcements • Technology • Mobile Technology • Strategize • (3) Comments • Permalink
What better way to truly learn a new mobile device than to use it in real time… with colleagues in a business setting… dressed in suits… on a beach? This was my experience a few weeks back, as I was a guest and participant in the Nokia E73 Mode Beach House on Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach, CA.
Believe it or not, it was as I said – a gathering of mobile technology aficionados, with bloggers, consultants and fans. Most were from southern California, where a few of us were invited from around the US and Canada. The reason for the event was to get hands-on with the Nokia E73 Mode, a close sibling of the Nokia E72 smartphone, which is offered exclusively by T-Mobile. The business setting scenario was for a video shoot on the beach with all of us as participants, complete with planned and unplanned events. The weekend was organized by the gracious and brilliant minds of WOMWorld/Nokia, who handle word-of-mouth marketing for Nokia.
The E73 Mode Beach House was a multi-level house right on Sunset Beach. Those us from out of town – myself, Glenn, Lenny (aka The Truth) and Dennis – along with the WOMWorld crew – Donna, Adam and James – stayed at the beach house for a couple of nights and the house and back deck were converted for the festivities on Saturday night for us and those from the LA area. Some of the people included Jen, Jeb, Al and Mike. It was a reunion of sorts for Jen, Donna, Glenn and I as we all met a couple of years back at Nokia OpenLab in Helsinki. Though time had passed, it didn’t seem like it as we all keep in touch through social media.
Our assignment for the weekend was to make a video of us using the E73 Mode. It offers different “modes” where you can have both a home and work screen, each configured for what you need for each. As the camera crew arrived and were setting up, we were ushered upstairs to get dressed. We were confused as we certainly weren’t walking around the beach house naked. Then we saw what we had to wear – suits, complete with shirts and ties. Then the story came to life – we were working on the beach, but also living, and trying out the E73 Mode as to how it would help us with both modes of our life. As I said it is the sibling of the E72, one which I already own, I was well aware how well this works.
As for the video – nothing was scripted. There was the “story” of us working on the beach, but much of it was improvised, including Glenn surfing in his suit and the volleyball game of the suits vs. the locals, where the mobile geeks won! The video is embedded below, or you can watch the Nokia E73 Mode Beach Party official video on YouTube.
I’ll write more on the E73 Mode later, reviewing its features, and comparing it to the E72 and other mobile devices. In the meantime, enjoy the video, and thanks to Nokia and WOMWorld/Nokia for a great weekend experience, not to mention building a great device.Technology • Mobile Technology • Diversions • Thrive • (7) Comments • Permalink
Sunscreen – check. Sand shoes – check. Desire to check email while on the beach – check!
I’m off to southern California for the Nokia E73 Mode beach party to be held on Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach, CA. The folks from the word-of-mouth marketing team of Nokia, WOMWorld/Nokia, have invited me and others from around the country, as well as a number of folks from the LA area, to participate in this unique event, which you can read more about here.
While we take advantage of the sun and beach, we’ll be trying out the new Nokia E73 Mode mobile device, which is available at T-Mobile in the US. It appears to me to be similar to my E72 device, and I will find out first-hand for sure this weekend.
If you’re so inclined, you can follow along on Twitter, and we’ll be will be using the hashtag #e73mode. I’ll also be checking out the camera and may do some video streaming, though my main focus will be on how the E73 can fit into my work life. Seriously!
Thanks again to the folks from WOMWorld/Nokia for inviting me out to this great event. And for the sake of full disclosure, or more like to keep the FTC from coming after me, you can read about my relationship with Nokia.Mobile Technology • Diversions • Thrive • (4) Comments • Permalink