New app aims to transform way we digitally interact with products and services

Supplementary content information

Photo of Advent Calendar


A new innovation created with support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) could transform the way we digitally interact with products.

While QR Codes currently allow mobile phone users to access services by scanning a box containing code, a team from the University of Nottingham has developed Artcodes as a far more aesthetically-pleasing and playful alternative which also allows users to share content and draw their own code.

The Artcodes app was developed as a joint initiative between designers and computer scientists at the Horizon Digital Economy Research institute that was established at the university following an initial £40 million investment by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and has brought together more than 200 academic and industrial partners.

Artcodes can be downloaded on to a mobile phone and used to scan an image drawn on an item by a designer or craftsperson. Instead of recognising the image, the app scans its topology and can then route the mobile phone user through to linked products and services.

The new app has the potential for widespread applications ranging from visual interaction with commercial brands and packaging to user interaction within museums and galleries.

And with Christmas fast approaching the Artcodes team has even used it to develop interactive advent calendars which can be connected to personal digital content and then shared with friends and family.

Professor Steve Benford, EPSRC Dream Fellow and one of the investigators involved in the project, says: This will transform the way digital enhances physical products and allows users to personalise their own elements. We are looking to decorate the world with interactivity.

Reference: PN 66-16