Simply Scan to Understand Your Environment!

Of the many unexpected events in recent years, the breakout success of QR codes in the US and Europe is one that we’re thankful for and excited about. That’s why Temboo is jumping on the QR code bandwagon with our latest feature, making it even easier for communities to get environmental insights on the go.

QR Codes make understanding the environment accessible and engaging

But First, A History Lesson

QR codes (or “Quick Response” codes to use their full name) were invented in 1994 by Japanese automaker Denso Wave. The engineers at the auto plant wanted a better barcode for tracking parts on the production line. Their design, based on the black and white pieces on a Go board, improved on the barcodes you know from the supermarket checkout by expanding the storage capacity from 85 characters to tens of thousands. 

The combination of fast scanning time and lots of storage soon made the QR code a hit in the automotive industry, and it wasn’t long before they were adopted throughout a range of other industries that needed a better way to track objects.

Once QR codes became the norm in commercial tracking applications, it wasn’t long before they started popping up in consumer applications. People started using them to open webpages, download apps, display text, connect to WiFi networks, and much more. 

However, while QR codes were a hit in Asia from day one, they never really captured the mainstream imagination in the US and Europe, until the pandemic hit.

Why Now? 

QR codes are a great alternative to a whole host of activities that traditionally involved close contact with another person. The opportunity to avoid such interactions in the Covid era has led to a big uptick in QR code adoption. Whether you’re paying at a store, or checking in at a venue for contract tracing purposes, QR codes have quickly become the default way to link the physical and digital worlds. 

Restaurants have been leading the charge, with customers browsing menus, ordering food, and paying bills by scanning QR codes. The ability to quickly and easily link the physical world (a restaurant) with the digital world (an ordering and payment system) has educated people about the benefits of a simple but powerful piece of technology that they’d previously overlooked. Many in the hospitality industry moved quickly to install QR codes when the pandemic hit, and by now people are comfortable with using them as part of everyday life. 

Since QR codes are a flexible, general purpose, approachable data storage mechanism, the fact that people are increasingly comfortable using them opens up a huge range of opportunities outside of the immediate pandemic-driven needs.

QR Codes @ Temboo

Temboo’s goal is to make it as easy as possible to understand and take action on whatever is happening in the air, soil, and water around you. We do this by making the environmental sensor data as accessible, understandable, and actionable as possible. Our goal is to continuously close the gap between the physical and digital worlds, making environmental information available communities all over the world.

Environmental insights blend into everyday life

Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve taken another step forward on our journey towards seamlessly linking the physical and digital worlds. Communities using Temboo can now add QR codes to physical objects like trees, that when scanned, take you to relevant information about those objects, like soil moisture levels.

This new feature unlocks a wide range of creative possibilities, removes the barrier to environmental data access, and makes engaging in the environment even more fun. 

Want to know what the particulate matter levels are like at your local park? Just scan the QR code at the entrance gate.

Want to know how the water quality is before you go swimming? Just scan the code at the beach.

Want to know how high the river is after a recent rain storm? Just scan the code by the river bank. 

In addition, communities can now make their sensor data publicly accessible, so that anyone with a smartphone can view it without asking permission. This turns sensors into a shared resource that can form the basis of educational programs, stewardship activities, and many other types of grassroots engagement. 

Temboo QR codes in action – viewing live soil moisture data on location

What’s Next?

It’s easy to see how the ability to access and understand environmental data can benefit people everywhere. A more engaged and informed community is a healthier, happier community. 

While we work to get this feature into our customers’ hands in a way that makes sense for their projects, we’re also building out features that go beyond basic access to sensor data and show environmental insights that make the biggest impact for their community.

A Temboo QR code on Newtown Creek Alliance’s green roof in New York City

Want to Learn More?

Are you interested in using QR codes to engage your community around environmental sensor data and environmental issues? If so, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. There’s no end to the creative ways that we can use QR codes to link the physical and digital worlds, and we’re excited to work with you to bring your ideas to life!

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