Introducing QRpedia

My new project - QRpedia - gets its first official outing at Derby Museum's Backstage Pass this Saturday. Do come along if you're in the area.
Before then, I thought I'd give you a sneak-peek at what's happening.
Don't Tell The British Museum
In February, there was a discussion on this blog about using QR codes in museums to link to Wikipedia pages. Things have rather snow-balled from there. Working with Roger Bamkin, we've created a working prototype which is ready to take over THE WORLD!

What's It All About (Alfie)?

The basic idea is this...

  • Museums have lots of interesting exhibits.
  • The explanatory texts are usually fairly short.
  • Often, exhibits are only in English.
  • Wikipedia has mobile friendly, multi-language pages for just about every exhibit.
  • If only there were a way to link museums to mobile friendly Wikipedia pages so visitors could read about exhibits on their phones....

Could I create a service which allows a single QR code to redirect museum visitors to a language-appropriate mobile Wikipedia article for the exhibit they are looking at? Only way to learn is to do...

So, after a few nights of hacking away at the Wikipedia API, my Glamorous Assistant (Liz) and I snuck off to the British Museum to see if the prototype works. This is us at the Rossetta Stone (my favourite exhibit in the museum).

It works! Scanning the QR code, directs the phone to . The QRpedia service then redirected the phone to the mobile version of the Rossetta Stone article!

No Rossetta Stones Were Hurt In The Making Of This Movie

I then set the phone to a different language. First Korean, then French.

Flawless! In both cases, the QRpedia service detected the phone's language and redirected it to the appropriate page. And it's pretty speedy!


Should you wish to take a look at how I've done it, the code is available for perusal and reuse.

I'm not great with Wikipedia's "Toolbox". This code I've created should allow you to generate a QRpedia code from any Wikipedia page (it's based on Fæ's excellent code).

/* Userscript to add a code display option to toolbar
/* Generates a code image using the current Wikipedia page URL.
/* Demo version so use at your own risk!
/* More info on QR codes:
/* More info on QRWP codes:
/* Created by edent: 3 April 2011

// Set up toolbox basics
var tid="t-qrcode",
 ttxt="Create QR code",
 rhref=rhref.replace("", ""); // Keep language. Change domain name. Correct path
 thref=''+rhref; // Google Chart API

// Create link
var tul=document.getElementById("t-whatlinkshere"),ta=document.createElement("a"),tli=document.createElement("li");

Now What?

We're still refining the code and the design. I'm actively looking for feedback on the project. The first step is meeting with Museum staff and Wikipedians at Derby Museum's Backstage Pass.
Secondly, we need feedback from you. Drop a comment on this blog or over on Twitter.
Thirdly, I'll be discussing this work at Mobile Monday London and OpenTechUK - please come along to both if you're interested.
Finally, chatting with museums, galleries, libraries, and other cultural spaces. If you run one and would like to know more about QRpedia - please contact me.

I'd Like To Thank The Academy

The QRpedia service is still a little way from being production ready. Soon, I hope, it will be in use in museums across the world. Actually, I'd settle for just the British Museum and Derby Museum - but you've got to dream big!

I wouldn't have got this far without co-creator Roger Bamkin - his knowledge of Wikipedia and of the UK Museum scene has been vital. Michael McNeela who has generously let us use the domain and is, as we speak, designing a more professional user-experience for it. Also due credit are Fae, Andy Mabbett, Nick Moyes, Tom Morris, and everyone else who contributed to the discussion and testing of the service. Finally, a big thanks to Liz, my wife, for letting me drag her to the Rossetta Stone and repeatedly film her scanning in QR codes.

I'd love to know what you all think of QRpedia - please drop a comment in the box below.

6 thoughts on “Introducing QRpedia

  1. says:

    I know a number of design groups within the Museum industry I am about to send this post to them very interesting. I proposed a similar product, zoned information, but with the use of bluetooth for a project ten years ago. Sadly that never happened as it was for a big mobile phone company just as they bought their 3G licenses and at the time you would have had to lend the visitors devices...QRs are perfect as most mobile devices will have the technology built in.

    Though demographically I wonder if the museum users would have such technology...that is not to detract from what is a really good idea, just merely problem solving questioning.

    Good Luck

  2. Do come and see this idea for real at Derby Museums on April 9th. (search for GLAM and Derby) The work described here arose out out of a Wikipedia / Museum collaboration at Derby. Terence may have done better things but I think this is the coolest thing Ive been involved with. Its so simple and it works. Bluetooth and Geotags tell you approximately where a person is, but QR code tells you what they are looking at.

  3. SteveD says:

    Hi terence,

    Any chance you'd know how I can make a bookmarklet for chrome/safari with that script so that I can just click in the browser on a wikipedia page to get a QR code?

  4. A partner and I have been working on hosted mobile web pages with QR codes for some time and looking always for innovative ideas to make the pages functional. Great idea to sense the phone's language. Well done and good luck with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: