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QuickMark: The Granddaddy of Marker Based Augmented Reality

Submitted by on Tuesday, 15 December 20096 Comments

Whilst looking at various augmented reality demo’s recently, I realised that many of the applications that are not location based, are marker based. In the marker based category, there are some that may be construed as a pointless use of technology, and a few that really stand out. See here. However I digress….


This got me thinking back to my first experience with marker based technology, back then we didn’t even refer to it as augmented reality. These were the funny little symbols that all of my colleagues from the Tokyo office had on their business cards, and the rest of us tried to work out how to decipher. As I remember it; I didn’t even abstract the term to ‘marker’, I used one name for these things, and that was a QuickMark. For me it was a complete brand/product association, as the term Hoover is to vacuum cleaner, or Coke is to cola. I first came across QuickMark over 3 years ago, however I have come to understand that they have been making 2D barcodes for over 5 years.

For those of you who don’t know QuickMark, here is a quick (no pun intended), overview. QuickMark allows users, via their website, to create physical world hyperlinks (more later), these are much like barcodes and link a glyph or fidicial with a symbol[1], to some destination address. Links from QuickMark may be one of the following:

  • Web Site
  • Bookmark
  • Phone Call
  • Send SMS
  • Send Email
  • Address Book
  • meCard
  • vCard
  • Text
  • Encryption
  • Partial Encryption
  • Magic Jigsaw
  • Geographical Coordinates

Download their application and check out the marker below. They support, and have always supported an amazingly vast range of platforms and handsets.

Example QuickMark

So what are they up to now?

QuickMark have recently teamed up with Google who have distributed over 100,000 QR codes to local businesses in the US. The announcement states:

“We’ve identified over 100,000 businesses in the U.S. as “Favorite Places on Google” based on Google users’ interaction with local business listings. Each business is receiving a window decal with a unique QR code that you scan with your phone to read reviews, star the business as your own favorite and more.”

QuickMark and Google Favourite Places

From the image below, taken from Google Favourite Places’ landing page, it would seem that QRs are also inserted into streetview, which would be very useful for quickly storing the address details of an establishment. However I didn’t manage to work out how this works in practice – so it’d be great if anyone can help me to figure this out.

QuickMark Google streetview

QuickMark also have an API that allows others to create and embed QR readers and encoders into their own applications. Thanks QuickMark! This is great news for developers :)

Physical World Hyperlinking and Levels of Augmented Reality

Robert Rice talks about the levels of augmented reality here, this is a great article and definitely worth a read. Level 1 is defined as:

“…superimposing graphics on a video stream (from a webcam).”

“…the software uses the marker for two things…first, to determine registration and tracking (where should the content and media be displayed) and second, what content to display.”

If this is level 1, then I would suggest that physical world hyperlinking is level 0.

Microsoft TagMicrosoft Tag

Lately there have been some new developments in marker based augmented reality, with Microsoft Tag. You can find out all about it here.

With all of the new advancements in marker based augmented reality, I would say that QuickMark are possibly the granddaddy of this technology, having pioneered it over 5 years ago.


[1] Curious Raven – Augmented Vision and the Decade of Ubiquity

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