QR Code Maps and Interactive Architecture

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QR codes are a great way to incorporate GIS content into public spaces. By printing them out onto small signs like posters, you can give people direct access to important information in a mobile device-friendly way, without having them type up a complicated URL. But while posters can be convenient, they can be aesthetically out of place with some areas.

I believe that GIS can work in tandem with wayfinding, the concept of creating spaces with easy navigation, while still maintaining a level of design. Seeing how the posters I’d been using previously could take people out of an environment, I decided to work on a way to incorporate these codes more fluidly into both indoor and outdoor spaces.

Those who are familiar with ArcGIS software may know that there are options for creating interactive 3D maps. These maps can allow for a level of interactivity for users, but don’t extend to creating other 3D objects to supplement your maps. This is where other options to create 3D files can help – my preferred being Blender and Adobe Photoshop. Noticing how these software are great for creating intricate models for 3D printing, I thought they could also be used to create more simplistic models for architecture. This is where the idea for creating QR code “blocks” came to mind. Essentially, printed QR codes that are modified in a way that they can be set into walls, benches or pathways. This way you can have maps that aesthetically flow with an environment – an especially useful tool for when you’re working with areas that have a high amount of foot traffic, or spaces that don’t have much open room for larger map displays.

The QR code for one of my maps.

The QR code for one of my maps.

You can create these blocks by starting out with a basic QR code generator, and inputting the URL of the map you want to display. I used the generator in Adobe’s InDesign software to do this. Taking that generated code, I could then screencapture it and open it as a separate image file in Photoshop. From there, I could create a 3D extrusion from the file – starting out with a simple cube shape. I can then take those cubes and modify them to work with any dimensions that the block will be placed in. When using photoshop, I tend to use adhesive vinyl stickers to make sure the QR code is readable. However, Blender provides options for 3D modeling the QR code itself.

Working with the 3D extrusion in Photoshop.

Working with the 3D extrusion in Photoshop.

Once the model’s been created, they can be 3D printed and incorporated into the environment you’re working with – whether that’s a hospital, museum, park or other location – and you can provide those in that space with quick access to navigational tools.

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