Learning to Zap

img_zapbot_cust_200A couple of months ago, I’d never heard of Zapcodes; now, I’m learning how to make them. Zapcodes are an augmented reality version of QR codes, allowing people to access multimedia content by pointing their phone or tablet camera at a special icon.

Our initial idea for the story trail part of this project was to use QR codes, but Maya had seen a Zappar demonstration at the London Book Fair and suggested that we investigate the possibilities of this new technology. “Augmented reality” itself is not a new concept – in fact it’s been around for more than 100 years. My friend and fellow artist Tamiko Thiel is part of the AR group and has been creating virtual installations since 2010, in locations from the Tate to the Hagia Sophia. There seems to be an increasing buzz around augmented reality, as new apps make it possible to do more with it, and more people have devices that can display it. The Zappar app and Zapcodes make AR technology more widely accessible, and in particular make it easy for the likes of me to create and play with the codes.

In my initial experiments, I created layers containing images and audio files, then moved on to clickable buttons and video clips. Soon I’ll be ready to start creating the content and codes that we’ll use as part of the story trail for Tales from the Towpath – watch this space!