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QR Codes + Trail Signs
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Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
QR Codes + Trail Signs on 01/29/2012 21:02:34 MST Print View

17 year old here.

I have an iPhone. I am probably an outlier for my age group in that when I am on the trail; my phone is rarely with me. This summer I will make the exception on the PCT as it will serve predominately as a camera but also as a journal platform (in conjunction with a written journal), when I am on the trail my phone will remain firmly in Airplane mode.

I am philosophically opposed to the QR codes on trail signs. Unlike many people of the generation older then me, I have literally been steeped in modern techno culture every day of my life. In fact the only time I can achieve a semblance of escape from it is when I am on the trails and I would be absolutely disappointed to see QR codes on my upcoming section hike.

I would urge the older generation to think of the younger ones when making decisions concerning adding things to our wilderness areas. As the number of locations on this finite earth where one can escape technology begin to dwindle, and the number of people who have never lived a day without technological influence continue to rise I challenge you to think not only of the current generation of users but also of us. Those of us who will inherit the wilderness areas in whatever state you leave them in when you invariably stop using them.

There is a time and a place for trail signs with embedded QR codes, but that area is not our few remaining wildernesses.

To those who say that others can live with the "organic" look of these codes for their convenience I vehemently disagree. A code made up of perfect squares is nothing close to organic. Fine me a naturally occurring perfect square in nature and I will reconsider. There are devices that enable you to do everything that these codes will do without trammeling upon the nature of everyone else.

With that being said, I would like to commend you on the innovation. While I may not agree with all of the innovations that occur, I do not have anything but respect for those people who are able to come up with new ideas and tools. For the innovation I respect you. As I said, I just do not feel that our few remaining wildernesses are the correct location for this otherwise very interesting and well thought out idea.

Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
QR Codes + Trail Signs = Innovation! on 01/29/2012 22:23:52 MST Print View

Amazing! This is my first time on this thread and you are turning out some very nice work! My last employer produced an iPad & iPhone interface to compliment their medical software package. It was a great success for them. Keep working on this, there is huge potential for an excellent finished product ahead that may go far beyond QR Codes.
As a 57 year old, I do prefer map & compass as a Plan B when my preplanning or poor signage leaves me short but I must admit that your system (as said above) has real potential.

Best of Luck!

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: QR Codes + Trail Signs on 01/29/2012 22:24:26 MST Print View

Well said Jace!

No signs in the wilderness. Keep it wild.

a b
QR code this sign. on 01/29/2012 22:36:07 MST Print View

Can't you just see the hikers chipping away at the rime ice to scan the QR code.
.Trail sign in the White Mountains, New Hampshire's Appalachian Trail
I really don't like this idea.
In fact this is the sort of thing I would go "Hayduke" over.
Why don't i like the idea? Because there are already too many people surrendering their own judgement to electronic devices in the wilderness.
Though I don't use a GPS I can understand how it can be a great SECONDARY tool for navigation BEHIND a map and compass.
The smartphone thing with QR codes.. No Way.
I don't get militant about much, but this would be one of those things.

Edited by Ice-axe on 01/29/2012 22:41:19 MST.

Chris Benson
(roguenode) - F

Locale: Boulder
nfc on 01/29/2012 22:38:08 MST Print View

Someone suggested NFC earlier. I use nfc tags a bit and recently started putting them in geocaches. When I create or find a cache I can write a custom nfc tag (I use a small plastic disc tag) on the spot regardless of cell service availability and leave it there. When a friend finds the cache, they can read the message and write their own.

The approx. 1" plastic discs read/write just fine after a trip through my washer and dryer :) and could be easier/cheaper to replace and update than custom built signs. They could also be any color/design you want (including the same color as the sign).

Just a thought as I'd think they would be easier to implement, have wider potential use (due to their 2-way capability), and might satisfy some of the concerns about obvious technology reminders during their nature experience.

Edited by roguenode on 01/29/2012 22:39:54 MST.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
QR Codes add potential on 01/30/2012 09:28:11 MST Print View

We've just approved an Eagle Scout project that includes placement of QR's on existing signs and kiosks within our nature preserve and a website with supporting data ranging from location/mapping to interpretive material regarding the flora and fauna. It's a great value-added feature for the reality of a world where many people are more skilled and eager with their smart-phones that they are with a paper map. It also allows us to minimize the production of paper maps that often wind up "in" the preserve rather than one's pocket.

There were those opposed to the idea, either on the grounds that they are fearful and offended by technology and representations of it, or that they were concerned such things serve people they don't want to be out in the outdoors anyway (or at least, "their outdoors). My view, from the perspective of one who dislikes signs other than trail markers, is that these small graphic images aren't an imposition when placed on existing signeage and have great utility to folks that can use it.

And to those who despise technology, I encourage you to move forward with a "Bludgeon the iTards" campaign. All wearers of earphones in the outdoors must be savagely punished, if only to set an example for the others. Yes, even if they're using a UL iPod and cute, lightweight gear, this blight of self-absorbed, oblivious goofballs must be eradicated like polio or zombie virus. Actually, come to think of it, it may be zombie virus.

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
Great idea on 01/30/2012 10:08:33 MST Print View

I love this idea. It also makes me cringe. But inevitably technology is becoming a part of the outdoors. Why not make use of it? The signs look fantastic, I like your design. I don't think it would take away from the outdoors aspect of things, and I don't think that having your phone in hand (hey, its my camera too,) is wrong in any way. I would hate to see everyone talking on the phone while hiking, especially if it disturbs other hikers. But use of technology like this could be awesome. It could also be tied into a gps map and track your progress, time, elevation gain and loss, etc. It would work well as a trip log along with providing info. Good luck I'd like to see this happen. I was just on franconia ridge this weekend. The signs were mostly iced over, but hey, you can knock the ice off and still use these in winter if you wanted to. :)

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
QR Codes + Trail Signs on 01/30/2012 11:37:02 MST Print View

I'm already bothered by idiotic and useless signage as it is:


^^^Gee, how helpful. If you didn't already know you were on Forester Pass in Sequoia...
Why can't we leave the backcountry alone and keep most of this info limited to maps? All the info on this sign could be looked up before hand or referenced elsewhere. I see no need to clutter up a beautiful pass with signage.

Personally, I think the QR thing is dumb and ugly; I see QR codes and I see someone trying to sell me something. But if people insist on integrating technology and the outdoors, why not use tech to it's full advantage and ditch the signs and codes altogether? Can't your "smart" device, based on GPS and pre-loaded software, just tell you you're on Forester Pass, the elevation, and anything else a QR could, but without unsightly signs?

Edited by xnomanx on 01/30/2012 11:40:16 MST.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
QR Codes + Trail Signs = Spray Paint + Thermite on 01/30/2012 12:04:30 MST Print View

Since it's a math problem, here's my solution:

QR Codes + Trail Signs = Spray Paint + Thermite

In the Wilderness. On an interpretative trail, nature trail, history trail, etc. I say fine.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
existing signs on 01/30/2012 12:11:00 MST Print View

If the sign is already there I don't understand the objection. I can see objecting to putting more signs in the wilderness, but what difference does a little symbol make on an existing sign?

Jared Downs
(jared.downs) - F

My response to an old thread. on 01/30/2012 16:55:16 MST Print View

Hey All,

Thanks for all the comments....thought this thread was near dead. But thanks to Heather for bringing it back up.

Heather - I'd love to help you out with your paper / work since I took my fair share of time through out my project from the community. Please feel free to e-mail me at and I'll do my best to fill in any blanks for you.

So I'm not sure if anyone has had the chance to check out the project in its competition, because I think most of these comments are based just on the work shown in this thread. But here's the link to my portfolio for you all to check out the completed project

I'll try my best to put out any fires that may have re-sparked themselves...this project is not going anywhere, and I currently have no plans for it.

I was approached a month back by a group that was looking to try and integrate the codes into their trail signs, and I'll do my best to give them the knowledge I learned through out my project, but I still have my personal views on this stuff.

My personal views... I don't care for QR codes and want less signs. I agree with everyone that does not want to see these. But I'll also go as far to say that I don't see the need for GPS units. I don't own any of them or want any of them. I don't even own a smart phone, I have a prepaid el-cheapo phone and I use it on hikes only to log the time I got onto the trail and the time I got off trail...I don't own a watch.

Jace - I'd have to say that of all the comments I have a received on here, I appreciate and respect yours the most. I appreciate that you were able to put into context what exactly it was that you didn't like about this rather than just stating that you don't like it. Props to you for your stance, I fear our generation does not see nature for what it really is. I bet this all sounds funny since I'm the one who did the project, but again it was just an exersice in exploring a new concept and seeing what could come of it.

To everyone else, I appreciate the comments both positive and negative. It's great to get some feedback on something that's had a few months to lay stagnant, rather than only getting the initial 'wow' response because it is days old.

Edited by jared.downs on 01/30/2012 16:58:38 MST.