Now there is an easy way for “print” to take you on such “virtual journeys” using Microsoft “Tags.”
“Travel Tag” Discovered
In my February 7, 2011 “Travel Tech: ‘Playing Tag’ To Get Travel Info” story, I wrote this about Microsoft “Tags,”.
“The “tags” … are the little boxes with [colored or black and white] triangles and can be put on Websites, inserted into ads in print publications, placed next to merchandise on store selves, and even applied as temporary body tattoos. Scanning the tag with your smartphone’s camera [using the free Microsoft “Tag” app] will connect you to a Website where you can learn more about the product, the place, or the service, without having to type in the site’s URL on the smartphone’s keyboard. The app keeps a history of the tags you have scanned, so you can go back and re-connect to the Website or re-play the video that relates to that tag.”
I first discovered Microsoft “Tags” in an Conde Nast Traveler magazine ad touting “Sunnylicious” Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Scanning the tag with my iPhone played a YouTube video clip in which a young couple “found their sunny” in that Floridian burg.
With “Tags,” The Sky’s The Limit
“My guess is that Microsoft Tags will replace the post cards which travel magazine readers have used for many years to request brochures from companies advertising in the publication.
“Among the places where you might see these tags during your travels are seatbacks on buses, transit stops, transit passes, movie and event posters, museum exhibits, and even the T-shirts that you buy to bring home as souvenirs of your trip.”
Back to The Future
Despite my prediction that Microsoft “Tags” would eventually cover the planet, I haven’t actually encountered that many in “the real world” since I wrote about them over a year ago. Their high-tech cousins, “QR Codes,” seem to have been more widely used.
But this week, Microsoft “Tags” appeared on my travel writer’s “radar screen” when “Explorations,” a catalog of “adventure travel” outings, arrived in my mailbox. As I leafed through the catalog, I could see that many trips included a Microsoft “Tag” within the printed trip description, and that the catalog’s table of contents featured a “Video Preview How-To” that explained how smartphone owners can use those “Tags.”
“Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent,” a 14 day/11 night trip aboard the National Geographic Explorer, intrigued me. Scanning the “Tag” for the trip gave me this visual taste of what it would be like to actually sail to the southernmost continent:
How to Play “Travel Tag”
The free Microsoft’s “Tag” app runs on several mobile devices including Windows Phone 7 and 7.5, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian, Blackberry, Android, and J2ME phones. (I downloaded for my iPhone 3Gs from the iTunes App Store).
Once you have the app, keep your eyes peeled for the distinctive triangles of a Microsoft “Tag,” scan it, and travel to where “print” has never taken you before.
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