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September 07, 2007

Encoded in Cleveland

This piece appeared in today's Chronicle of Higher Education

Encoded in Cleveland

By MATT PETRIE

Case Western Reserve University made orientation a bit more interesting this summer by sending new students on a scavenger hunt for 2-D codes, a high-tech variation of the familiar bar code.

At first glance each code resembles a black-and-white crossword puzzle with no clues, taped to a wall. Then a click of a cellphone camera reveals a hidden message: a Web site, music, perhaps a video.

The 2-D codes can be easily created and printed by practically anyone with a computer and deciphered by virtually any cellphone with the proper software. When the square code is photographed, it directs the phone to content on the Web.

2-D is already popular in Asia, where the codes appear on billboards, in television ads, and in magazines.

The phones, lent by Sprint Nextel, were "a new way to highlight the tech-heavy program" at the university, says Kate J. Police, an assistant director in the orientation office.

Groups of new students and their orientation leaders raced to locate and take pictures of 21 codes around the campus.

"I tried to make the pictures humorous," says Andrew Boron, a senior who created the codes for the hunt. Snap a picture of the code for the gym, and you're rewarded with a photo of a weight-lifting hamster. At the financial-aid office, the code plays Pink Floyd's "Money" — perhaps appropriate for Case, where the annual tuition and fees of more than $32,000 place it among the pricier institutions in the country.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH

September 07, 2007

Posted by lsg8 at September 7, 2007 04:21 PM and tagged

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