Using QR Codes On Camera Packages / Manuals?

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What do you think?

I see a lot of value with QR codes on DVRs, ptzs, encoders etc... Access to quick install guides on complex items should reduce onsite service tech time. Putting these on equipment such and fire alarm panels and linking to inspection logs and forms has potential As well.

Good feedback, Joel. It's funny because QR codes were unfortunately hyped up a few years ago and never reached their promise. However, there are niches like this where someone is dealing with a physical entity where it could be helpful.

As far as I've ever seen them used, QR codes do little other than link to online/web-based content... basically it's just a marginally more convenient way of saying, "No manuals in box, go to". And I say "marginally" because I have yet to come across a mobile device that will read them natively; all devices I've seen so far require a separate app to be installed, which then just calls the browser once it scans the QR.

I know there's more potential there, but is anyone using it for anything other than URLs?

In fairness, it's more like

So sure, they could just print the URL on the box or on a sticker but, presuming you know how to scan a QR code, it's easier to do that, then to type in a full URL.

True... where it falls down, again, is the lack of built-in support for it in most if not all mobile devices. Most(?) people aren't going to bother if it means downloading an app first, especially with the wide range of bar/QR scanners out there, some that are paid apps, to do something as simple as plugging in a scanned URL.

I mean, I just got (last weekend) a brand new LG G2, which is about the equivalent level to a Galaxy S4... neither the stock Android browser nor the pre-loaded Chrome have direct QR entry. You'd think it would be a natural to just put a QR scanner directly in a browser, but no... I think Dolphin has a plug-in for it, don't know about Opera. If you search the Play Store for "QR", there are literally dozens of scanner apps with a wide variety of ratings... for someone not too tech-savvy, it could be overload when you're trying to do something so simple.

Of course, none of this is a knock on the manufacturers using this method... I suppose they're helping the cause a bit by actually putting the codes out there.

A lot of people put the codes out there though. I seem them at bus stops, on the back of trucks. Everywhere. And yet no one has native readers. I too see some benifits to them in the sense of easy access to manuals, or like Joel mentioned the possibility of linking maintence logs and such.

I'm afraid the temptation for abuse far exceeds the value a busy professional will likely see.

When I need an install guide or an owners manual, I Google and almost always quickly find a searchable PDF edition.

When a vendor owns your eyes, there is a great temptation to show what THEY want you to see, which many have no bearing on what YOU want to see.

Back to the question at hand, if there was a standard that took you to a support page or manuals or some reliable helpful place, that might be great and save time. With no standard, I think you will find that implementation is too spotty to be an improvement over Googling.

But if the manufacturer can direct you to a very specific and relevant video, that's a lot better than just getting the stock user manual and then having to figure out where the appropriate section is for that part / component / aspect. Plus, videos are a lot better for showing how to do most things.

LOL I think it may be a matter of preference. I can usually find the relevant information more quickly from searchable printed information, while a video will hold you hostage for the duration of the video. Also, sometimes in order to know if a video presents the information you really need, you have to watch a signficiant amount of it.

In the workplace, there has been a transition from printed material and slide shows to video. I find such training is usually oriented toward the lowest common denominator and is a real time water. There is no practical way to speed up assimilation of material presented in video.

I can absolutely agree that if you are presented with a tool that works for you via QR codes or any other mechanism, that is a valuable tool whether or not someone else has a bias against it. Viva la differance!

It's certainly a matter of preference, though may I suggest you are an outlier :)

As you note, there is a transition to video, and that's because for most, videos (or images) are easier to digest. I think a key driver is existing level of expertise. If one alreadys knows a subject really well, probably glancing at a manual is all that one needs but if one is relatively inexperienced in an area, videos are easier to 'see'. Now, this may your LCD but so be it!

BTW (regarding "a real time water" which should have been "waster...") do you notice the web interface drops more characters than local typing?

And if you are using a QR code, you better have a mobile version of your website. I don't want to be taken to a desktop version of a site if I must scan your QR code. That is the biggest disconnect with QR codes in addition to needing a separate app.

YES! THIS, 110%!

If you can have one QR code, you can certainly have two. One QR code labeled "Installation Video", the other labeled "Operators Manual" - with appropriate URL linking to each of the two.

Seems like a good thing to an old support dude like me who's always hated tech support callers who begin their calls with "How do I...?" :)

Then we can call them RTFM (or WTFV) codes.

LOL You've pretty much described more than half of my tech support calls. As a (mostly) technically literate end user, I figure if I've wasted 30 minutes trying to figure out something I feel should be obvious, time to burdend vendor tech support. Half the time tech support is a lost cause because often we (the callers) are more knowledgeable than the vendor's level 1 support, and they have an internal process that burns clock time before they get you to someone who is at least knowledgeable enough to be helpful, if you can even ever get to such a person. We generally learn over time which vendors to avoid... .

LOL Horace... :)

Any environment where you have a support 'group' and an end-user 'group', the same dichotomy will always exist:

1. The support group will generally think that the end-user group is comprised primarily of morons... and

2. The end-user group will generally think that the support group is comprised primarily of morons.

This is, of course, perspective-driven. To overly generalize:

1. End-users are generally annoyed/pissed that they can't figure something out and/or something is broken and preventing them from doing their job... End-users rarely call with the best 'attitude'. :)

2. Support folks are literally inundated all day long with callers who - unlike yourself - will not even take the time to figure out stuff/RTFM, etc... Support folks can sometimes find it difficult to maintain a good attitude. :(

This is the 'perfect storm' of conditions that requires a superior support team to mitigate.

I loved your closing statement - as it is so dangerously true for companies who do not get this:

"We generally learn over time which vendors to avoid... ."

1. It's cool that I can reply to myself, but I will try to avoid doing it on a regular basis...

2. I forgot to reference another important phrase Horace mentions...

"As a (mostly) technically literate end user, I figure if I've wasted 30 minutes trying to figure out something I feel should be obvious, time to burden(d) vendor tech support."

That is the big taco right there - if a support 'group' can not provide (mostly) technically literate end users the ability to find answers on their own within 30 minutes, then waste, annoyance and pain will follow. For both parties. :(

John, this might be another niche for IPVM. Inasmuch as you and your staff are constantly testing new hardware and software; would it be possible to simply index the manuals from this for the hardware and software you test and make them available via your website? You could add value to this by including your own comments on each item. You clearly might need copyright releases, but assuming you had the permissions I could see this as an attractive service.

We could do a directory of manuals, aggregating links to manufacturer user manual pages/PDFs.

Also, we can include a link to each manual as part of our upgraded Camera Finder 2.0.

What comments are you thinking of us making on the manuals?

I would think links to any test reports you had done on the particular product would be helpful. Toll free numbers for the tech desk. Any notes on known issues not covered in the manuals. If you found any of the manuals hard to follow and had to figure out what they meant to say that would be useful. I suspect you have most of this already available to you. You have probably found cases where the manuals could stand some clarification or directions seemed out of order. Remember "Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"?