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Wikipedia Launches QR Code Tool, Makes Visiting Museums More Fun

Quick Response (QR) codes — barcodes for the Internet — have taken off in a big way with the advent of the mobile revolution. They can be used for ticketing, marketing, product-labeling…you name it. And now there’s an interesting initiative that lets anyone create multilingual QR codes that link to Wikipedia articles.

QRpedia was launched initially back in April, but in a blog post on Wikimedia on Wednesday, it seems its release is now official.

QRpedia emerged from a partnership between the Derby Museum and Gallery in England, and local Wikimedia contributors Roger Bamkin, chair of Wikimedia UK and “Wikipedian in Residence” at the Derby Museum, and Terence Eden, a mobile web consultant.

The combination of QRpedia and Wikipedia’s API enables museums to produce a multilingual experience for visitors for next to no cost. The idea is that an exhibit has a QR code placed next to it, and users simply scan the code and they are taken to the relevant Wikipedia page in their language, reports The Next Web.

How does it work? Well, the language settings of a user’s phone are transmitted during the scan, and QRpedia uses Wikipedia’s API to pull up the relevant language-specific article. If it doesn’t exist in a particular language, it will pull up the most relevant article instead.

According to the Wikimedia blog post: “In an era when cultural funding is very constrained, the combination of QRpedia and the global Wikipedia community enabled the Derby museum to produce a multilingual visitor experience at virtually no cost. Easy mobile access to Wikipedia articles allows visitors to the museum to access unprecedented detail about the objects and their context – information that didn’t make it onto the exhibit label.”

This system is also in use in other museums around the world.