As many of you know I’m a huge fan of Wikipedia. Yes, it has it’s warts, but all and all it’s a good thing. When I was in the Hard Rock Hotel Lobby yesterday there were several pieces of memorabilia artistically placed around the casino floor. From Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar to Michael Jackson’s leather jacket. A thought struck me as I took this all in. A few weeks prior in Boston I had walked through the Institution of Contemporary Art (ICA) to check out Shepard Fairey’s exhibit (Fairey is well known for his Obey Giant and Obama Hope imagery).
As you walked through Fairey’s exhibit you were given the option to call a telephone number on your mobile and discreetly placed next to each piece of art was a three digit code you could punch in to listen to a plethora of information about that particular piece. This was extremely helpful. Now, since I was one of the few people taking advantage of this mobile phone feature I was getting “nasty looks” that said I can’t believe that guy thinks he’s so busy that he’s on his phone as he walks around this beautiful art exhibit, what a jerk! These stares become more intense with time, so I stopped having my phone to my ear after a few minutes.
However, back to the Hard Rock memorabilia. I thought it would be cool if they had the same type of technology (as in the ICA) here as well as other appropriate places around the world. They could even used the popular 2-D/QR barcodes used in Japan rather than a number you had to punch into your one. With the bar code you simply place your phone up to the code (downside is that some phones don’t have this capability). Then you would have your choice of reading the information or having it played back to you in an audio format. There are already tools that help convert Wikipedia into audio. I haven’t checked these audio tools out, so I’m no sure how good they are, but if the need is there they will quickly become robust. Also, the technology of pointing to something or typing in a code to get information on something local been around for years.
Entrepreneurial minds could figure out appropriate ways to integrate value added marketing to the listener. For example they could promote the band that is playing at the Hard Rock that night, free appetizer at Noburestaurant inside the Hard Rock, current off-Broadway show, etc. At the same time it could give me the option to send a Facebook status update or Tweet with a fun fact about the Jimmy Hendrix guitar I’m checking out. This would give the Hard Rock some additional publicity while at the same time helping me look cool – which I’m always in short supply of. Do you think Wikipedia Audio or something similar is the next big thing?
Note: There is a good article by Rita Chang in Advertising Age about companies using 2-D barcodes.