All of these involve different sets of standards and technologies that are being utilized mostly on smartphone devices to enhance communications, interactions, and transactions for individuals, businesses and organizations. They can and are being used especially to promote and support companies’ legacy and loyalty marketing programs, for example. More and more these kinds of applications are using open-source technologies, which makes them well suited to widespread consumer and commercial adoption and usage. Interestingly, they also have the potential capability of tapping into and using web and data analytics to enable effective tracking of marketing and promotional program response. At CGP Studios, for example, we have been utilizing QR codes for years now, and we’re starting to develop and incorporate 3-D, video, and other graphical-informational models for clients to use in augmented reality and similar applications. Following is a brief description, with some examples, of the three applications referenced in your question:

QR (Quick-Response) codes are those little squarish (about 1″ x 1″) printed black-and-white graphics filled with static-y looking squiggles and black boxes in 3 of the square’s corners. QR codes started as a grass-roots marketing tool and can be found printed in publications, advertisements, on point-of-purchase displays, at trade shows, and even on product packaging. Smartphones with a free QR reader app make it fast and easy for you to point-and-click to get linked immediately to more detailed information, video, graphics, etc., without having to type, search, or speak. Example of a QR code: 

NFC or Near-Field Communications technology is essentially a developing payment system that turns mobile smartphones into mobile wallets. The possible uses of NFC technology, however, go beyond a convenient mobile payment device. Initially, Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Motorola and HTC have primarily adopted the technology in some of their devices as a commerce standard, although it is yet to be seen whether NFC or some other technology will become the standard. What is clear is that the boundaries on the world-wide consumer value proposition continue to spread and the possibilities of technologies like NFC will continue to challenge and inspire how all businesses will need to adapt their business strategies for marketing, merchandising, and conducting commerce.

Augmented reality (AR) is a recent technology driven primarily by video games and mobile devices like smartphones. Using your mobile phone, for example, you might be able to point your device and some combination of video, audio or informative graphics will appear in your field of view and become superimposed on your real-world environment. Current applications of augmented reality use, for example, your smartphone’s camera, gps, and compass can be deployed to create a real time interactive experience with a more “static” media—say, an ad in a printed magazine or on a billboard or even a motor vehicle—and create a moving, 3-D video-graphic experience that engages the viewer directly.

For a more visual example of how AR can work, check out these videos (below). One is a simulated, almost “virtual reality” like experience. The second is an interactive book experience. The possibilities for advertising, promo, and product information, we think, are quite evident.