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Construction Zone (News & Updates)

High-tech Signs Show the Way - Aug. 2

Posted Friday, August 31, 2012

Designers and workers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston have finished replacing outdoor campus signs with a high-tech flourish. Now some signs can give pedestrians a map.

Barry Leinhart, senior project manager, scans for directions at 9th and Market streets.

“Adding QR codes to our pedestrian wayfinding signage provides another option to assist pedestrians in finding their destination on campus,” said Bob Brown, program director for UTMB’s facilities planning. “With a QR code and smartphone, more wayfinding information such as campus maps and directions, is available on each sign than would be possible without this technology.”


Here’s how it works: A pedestrian with a smartphone scans a coded sticker on one of the signs. The sticker looks like a bar code and it is next to the name of a building or other destination listed on the sign. With the optical scan, the smartphone gathers embedded data, contacts a web server on campus, and retrieves a map. The map says “You Are Here” and shows a dotted line to the destination. Scan here to view map located by Levin Hall. Scan here to view map located by Levin Hall.

Scan here to view map located by Levin Hall.

The signs are using QR, or “quick response,” code, which is similar to bar coding and displays the familiar matrix of black and white squares and rectangles. Pedestrian signs may have several stickers, each to a different destination. There are a total of 67 destinations with individual QR pointers.

UTMB replaced more than 100 old signs on its buildings, garages and campus walkways in April. Eleven of the walkway signs have been equipped for QR. A 12th sign will be added with the completion of the new Jennie Sealy Hospital in 2016.

Innerface Architectural Signage Inc. in Atlanta consulted in the design of the QR system and the larger project to replace outdoor signs. UTMB next plans to replace interior signs but there is no plan to add QR codes indoors.

Smartphones need an add-on code-reader application to read QR code. Some of the most popular are RedLaser, ShopSavvy, Zapper, Qrafter, Bakodo, QuickScan and i-nigma. Various applications are designed to work on iPhones, iPads, or Android or Blackberry devices.