Physical world connection

Here’s a question. Has anyone done anything in the museum context with 2d barcodes, semacodes, phone barcode readers…?

Nokia is piloting some stuff which is going to help the momentum – barcode readers are now standard on a few of their N series phones. Also Microsoft is sniffing around too. At one point there was a link to some stuff on their “Live Ideas” pages but it seems to be redundant now.

The basic idea in case you don’t know is to tag real world stuff (including, potentially, museum objects) with “2d barcodes” (see example below). Pointing your cameraphone at the code – provided it has software installed – delivers content, or takes you to a url.

Until now this has been a great idea but problematic – as per my previous post about My Art Space, the number of people likely to install software on their mobile is extremely limited. But once a telco begins taking this seriously and shipping phones with software pre-installed, stuff will definitely begin to happen.

Have a look at The Pondering Primate for a great lowdown on what’s happening in this space. There’s also a list of the Physical World Connection companies – it’s an absolutely saturated space, just waiting for a leadning standard to emerge

Here’s the Nokia barcode for

Electronic Museum

4 thoughts on “Physical world connection”

  1. Hi Mike,

    we have some experience from the 2005 Museum Night in Amsterdam, where we used 2d barcodes for the first time in a few museums. The experiment did not pass the test of taking pictures with your mobile phone at night , and was not repeated. Although we are in touch with Dutch operator KPN about mobile projects, and would love to look into mobile applications.
    I have also been in touch with Ulla Mutanen from Helsinki, from ThinkLink, and she might have more experience with this. Or perhaps the people from Aula ( might be able to help, since they are involved with Nokia.
    Hope this is of any use to you.

    All the best,


  2. Hey Juha, very interesting – thanks for that. Certainly when I’ve used barcode software in the past, it has been flaky at best. In fact, now I’ve got a Nokia 6230i I can’t seem to find any software which works with it at all…

    Will check out the links you mention


  3. Hi Mike, I have looked back into our documents, and the application worked (or was supposed to work) as follows: you took a picture of the barcode, which you then sent to a specified e-mail address, which then replied you with an url per sms, which you had to follow to get the information on the painting that was already there on the wall in the first place, thanks to Alfredd Barr decades ago. But since you had to take a picture of the image, and not scan it, you were dependent on the amount of light in the museum, which, being at night, was not very illuminated.
    But, as the press release stated, this was a pilot. Maybe we should add kamikaze.



Leave a comment