I read an interesting blog post on the BBC Internet blog today  (tweeted by @psychemedia) about their new Antiques Roadshow play-along app that got me thinking about whether sound might be an interesting alternative to QR codes for QR code link to libwebrarian.wordpress.comadding links to videos.  Apart from the interesting play-along game of guessing the valuation before it is broadcast, what I found interesting was the idea about using a sound to pass information.  The BBC app uses ‘audio watermarking’ to send out signals during the TV programme.  These signals are inaudible to listeners but can be picked up by the microphone and interpreted by the app on the phone or tablet.

Obviously the BBC are able to broadcast sounds as part of their programmes in a way that isn’t available to most.  But with websites and videos many of us are now effectively acting as media producers.  I’m particularly thinking about the series of short animations that we’ve been producing over the last couple of years introducing topics like ‘Avoiding plagiarism’ or ‘Evaluating information’.  These short animations all tend to end with a link to somewhere to go to find more information and we’ve started adding QR codes to this screen to give people an easy way of following the link via a mobile device.   It would be interesting to see if it might be possible to add a sound to the end of the animation that passed on the link.

Bob animation screenshot showing QR codeOne piece of technology that does something along those lines is Chirp.  This tool ‘sings’ information from one device to another.  (For an example of Chirp in action have a look at Thomas Cochrane from AUT’s presentation at last year’s mLibraries conference.) This tool is only available for iOS devices at the moment but apparently they plan to offer it on other devices eventually.  It also differs from the BBC ‘audio watermarking’ in that it is an audible sound.

Looks like a potentially useful way of providing follow up links on videos at least.