Appeared in the Charlatan magazine February 2012 http://www.charlatan.ca/2012/02/portals-are-in-business/
By Anthony Morelli February 09 2012.
Even if you’ve never used QR codes, you’ve probably already seen them around. Black and white and square, they’re like barcodes, except they’re not scanned for prices at the cash register — they’re scanned with smartphones to direct us to websites.
The possibilities of advertising with QR codes seem endless — and one Carleton entrepreneur is trying to unlock what he thinks is the QR code’s most promising innovation.
Michael Ayukawa, a member of Carleton’s technology innovation management (TIM) program, is in the process of redefining the QR code’s role with his company, Cornerportal. Using their mobile app, “Scanzai,” Cornerportal is aiming to further merge the physical and digital worlds.
Michael Ayukawa (Graphic by : Don Dimanlig)
Available for Apple and Android mobile devices, Scanzai allows users to scan QR codes that are attached to a physical object, and access a social media forum related specifically to that object.
For example, by scanning the QR code on the door of Cornerportal’s Carleton office, the user would be led to a ‘tag’ that allows anyone to share information, comments, pictures and insights related to the office.
“QR codes are everywhere, but no one has made them interactive,” Ayukawa says. “We make it easy to increase the value of a shared object by adding digital content.”
Using Scanzai, nearly all objects and places have the ability to develop a digital life full of artifacts, emotions, discourse and history.
“Even a simple object becomes really precious, because it has a story,” Ayukawa says.
And it seems as though Scanzai is attracting some interest. Cornerportal has received grants from the Ottawa Young Entrepreneurs Program and has been successful in attracting private investment for its research and development.
Ayukawa and his team of international business partners, along with students and developers in Shenzhen, China, are all constantly pivoting their product’s focus through experimentation and feedback.
And when asked how Scanzai is received by investors, Ayukawa was optimistic.
He says his vision has been getting some “pull from the market.”
“Everyone generally says ‘Wow, there is real potential with this, there’s definitely something here,’” Ayukawa says.
The product’s potential for growth is practically limitless, he says, since anyone can generate a QR code, and anyone with a smartphone can scan it and add content.
There are, however, some challenges facing this small company.
Like Twitter, in order to gain popularity and widespread use, Ayukawa believes Cornerportal needs to raise its profile and become a recognizable brand.
That’s a difficult task without significant investment. Similarly, exactly how they will be able to generate revenue through advertising is a work in progress, though Ayukawa says he has some ideas for the future.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe it could be a $50 to $100 million dollar company,” he says.