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  • 1.  QR codes to access audio clips

    Posted 11-16-2022 10:55 AM

    Hello. I'm curating an exhibit that comes out of a community oral history project and need to incorporate audio into the design. We are planning to use QR codes that visitors can scan using cell phones; the audio tracks will live on our website as a digital component of the exhibit. We decided that this would be the best way for visitors to listen to short excerpts from the interviews; we don't want to pay for hardware that people may be reluctant to use anyway, want to give people the choice to listen, and have too many clips in too small a space to play them as ambient sound.

    Does anyone have experience using codes to access audio and have comments or suggestions regarding the process, user experience, and overall results? Do you have recommendations (or warnings) regarding the companies that generate the codes? Thank you!

    Sarah Gordon
    Curator, Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History
    Kingston, New York

    Sarah Gordon PhD
    New York NY

  • 2.  RE: QR codes to access audio clips

    Posted 11-17-2022 09:05 AM
    Hi Sarah,

    I would recommend hosting your audio clips on SoundCloud and then use a QR code generator & manager such as QR Code Studio to link to those audio clips on SoundCloud. SoundCloud is free and you'll most likely have to pay for any decent QR code generator & manager. QR Code Studio offers some marketing insights such as how many times a QR code has been scanned. I have not had experience directly with QR Code Studio but at my previous job I setup an audio tour on our website using SoundCloud (you can embed audio clips in a SoundCloud audio player directly on your site).
    Let me know if you have any questions and I'd be happy to help.

    Take care,
    Brandon Miller
    Third Reality Media, LLC
    Lakewood, OH

    Brandon Miller
    Richmond VA

  • 3.  RE: QR codes to access audio clips

    Posted 11-17-2022 12:35 PM
    Hi Sarah,
    We use QR codes ALOT.  We have tried a few different companies but have found Beaconstac to be the best. They offer dynamic QR codes that enable you to change/update the attached link without having to change the QR code - really key if you are planning to print your QR codes.  They have a very nice UI with lots of  link options including the option to link audio files or upload them directly to the beaconstac website.

    Hope that helps.

    Julia Beabout
    CEO, Creative Director
    Seattle WA

  • 4.  RE: QR codes to access audio clips

    Posted 11-17-2022 05:50 PM
    Hi Sarah, we've used QR codes in our exhibits in the museum as well as to start an Augmented Reality exhibit outside. One recommendation is to print the URL that the QR code goes to under the code image. Some people don't like to scan them and others don't know how. You may also want to add: Aim phone camera to scan the QR code.

    Our graphic designer has made her own codes in either Illustrator or Indesign. These link to the content on our website that is not made public.

    Lisa Falk
    Head of Community Engagement
    Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona

  • 5.  RE: QR codes to access audio clips

    Posted 11-18-2022 09:12 AM
    Hi, Sarah,

    Having the QR codes so that visitors can listen to excerpts from the interviews on their own devices is an excellent idea. Certainly hearing the voices of the interviewees as they describe their lives and experiences adds another dimension to the exhibit.

    But you don't mention how you are going to accommodate visitors who are hearing-disabled. Will there be QR codes for those visitors to access the transcripts of the interviews or other ways in which these interviews can be accessed rather than via an audio clip?

    Best wishes.

    Martha Katz-Hyman
    Independent Curator
    Newport News, VA

  • 6.  RE: QR codes to access audio clips

    Posted 11-18-2022 10:54 AM
    Thank you to everyone who offered suggestions and thoughts - I really appreciate it. Regarding visitors with hearing impairments, we have an induction loop installed in the gallery, but will also provide transcripts of the interviews (via QR code, probably). We are also figuring out how to make the show as bilingual as possible since many of our interviews are in Spanish and we want Kingston's growing Latinx population to feel welcome in our space. Thank you again.

    Sarah Gordon PhD
    Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History
    Kingston, New York

  • 7.  RE: QR codes to access audio clips

    Posted 11-18-2022 05:11 PM
    Edited by Brian Hewitt 11-18-2022 05:11 PM

    Hello, Sarah.

    Sounds like a good use for QR codes.

    Some good suggestions here about generating the codes and hosting the files, but (as @Lisa Falk mentioned), I'd emphasize the importance of including short and clear text that explains what the QR code does - "scan with your phone to listen to this oral history" or something to that affect. We've created a QR code style guide that incorporates short and longer text options and visual requirements for consistency. And to that end, one important thing that maybe goes without saying but I'll say anyway: test the generated code in the actual context it will be used - actual size, placement, lighting conditions, and the distance visitors will need to be away from the code. Verifying that it works well in the real conditions should help remove at least one source of potential frustration (this has been learned the hard way in our organization).



    Brian Hewitt
    Manager, Digital Experience Design
    Corning Museum of Glass
    Corning NY

  • 8.  RE: QR codes to access audio clips

    Posted 11-21-2022 08:39 AM
    Hi Sarah,
    As has been brought up I would keep accessibility in mind. While transcripts for hearing impaired has been mentioned you might also want to think about vision impaired and blind visitors related to use of QR codes as those visitors can have difficulty locating the QR codes without other solutions, prompts, and or tactile components involved. VIP code reader and NaviLens are two platforms I have come across that are designed to address QR codes for vision impaired and blind users. I am not endorsing these platforms as I have not used either one yet but they may be worth looking into.



    Mark Osterman, Ed.D.
    Digital Experience Manager and Head of Education
    Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami
    Coal Gables, FL

  • 9.  RE: QR codes to access audio clips

    Posted 11-21-2022 01:17 PM
    Edited by KATHERINE HIJAR 11-21-2022 01:17 PM
      |   view attached
    Earlier this month, I was part of a panel on the use of QR Codes at the annual NEMA conference. We created a handout with some basic information and instructions for creating QR codes and linking content in-house. The process is actually quite simple, if you have the time to DIY. I attach an abbreviated version of the handout here (I stripped out information that is not relevant to what you're doing) and hope it might be useful. 

    I second the recommendation to provide brief information about the audio content in the exhibit labels. If the content is going to be longer than a minute, I also recommend including information about the length of the audio clip. As noted by others, some audiences may need guidance for accessing the content.

    Another thing that you didn't ask about and have probably already thought of: what about visitors without smart phones? [I see this as an accessibility issue that is sometimes related to economics.] Also, I know from research conducted at Mystic Seaport Museum that some visitors are reluctant to access content with their phones because of privacy and security concerns. Laminated sheets with printed text might be the way to go as an alternative.

    One last thought: noise pollution. In my experiences, almost no one uses ear buds or earphones to accesses audio content in museum galleries. The spill can be aggravating to others, and so a gentle reminder asking visitors to use these accessories might help (or, might not). 

    I hope this is helpful. It sounds like a terrific exhibit.

    Katherine] Hijar, Ph.D.
    San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
    San Francisco, California