Archive - Apr 19, 2011

QR Codes on Name Tags

I’ve been to various conferences where a bar code is placed on a name tag, so that when you visit a vender in the exhibition hall, all they need to do is scan your badge to get information about about you entered into their system. It is generally quick and efficient, and I’ve often thought that it would be great if attendees could scan each others badges to exchange information.

Today, I received an email from a friend who seemed to be thinking along the same lines. She wanted organizers of a conference she was helping organize to use QR codes on the badges and was asking me my thoughts about how to do it.

Actually, depending on what you want to put in the QR code, it can be very simple. First, check out Kaywa for a quick and easy QR code generator. If you want to create a QR Code for a URL, just stick “http://qrcode.kaywa.com/img.php?s=5&d=” in front of the URL. Yes, there example has the URL encoded, but you don’t need that. This makes it really easy to set up a spreadsheet which will have a link to an image that you can embed in a mail merge.

In my case, I created a simple spreadsheet. The first column had a name. The second column had a twitter handle, and the third column was the formula:

=“http://qrcode.kaywa.com/img.php?s=5&d=http://twitter.com/”&b2

I copied that formula down for each row. In essence what I was doing was making a column of images of the QR Code for the Twitter handle for each person.

Beyond the Keyboard has a blog post up about Creating a mail merge in Word using QR codes from Google Maps API. it doesn’t go into building the QR codes from the Google Maps API, and I find the Kaywa approach much simpler. However, it does have the information about how to build the mail merge, particularly in terms of the issue about getting images into the mail merge.

With that, you can skip down to the section, BEFORE YOU START: IMPORTANT TO KNOW. It talks about the problem with getting the mail merge to work.

Word does not automatically load the images when you create a mail merge. When Word creates the mail merge, it will not automatically load the image. This is a known problem.

Since I was doing things a little differently than the suggest, I glanced over the instructions and didn’t notice this part until I had tried severally times to get Word to load the images. Once I read that section and followed the instructions, the whole merge came together very simply.

So, for the merge section, I had something very simple
<>
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<>”>>

When I tried to preview it, the include picture was blank. That is because of the problem noted above. But, when I followed the workaround, I ended up with a document full of labels with QRCodes on them. I scanned a couple QR Codes and it worked nicely.

Perhaps I’ll make some labels like that for a Tweetup sometime soon.

Of course, instead of pointing to a Twitter page, you could point to people’s LinkedIn accounts, Facebook pages, event registration page, or any other page you could imagine.

So, name tags with QR Codes on them are actually fairly simple to create. Now, I just need a chance to use this.

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