Beautiful coding — new University project develops next generation of QR codes

23 Oct 2013 11:35:00.000

PA 326/13
October 18 2013

A new innovation from The University of Nottingham is promising to transform the way we digitally interact with new products and services by developing the next generation of easier-on-the-eye QR codes.

Known as Aestheticodes, the initiative has evolved out of a joint project between designers and computer scientists at the University’s Horizon Digital Economy Research institute and takes its name from the new technology it has created.

Aestheticodes aims to revolutionise embedded computer codes which allow the user to access more content digitally via their smart device. It designs visually beautiful images and encodes them, resulting in the same interactivity of a QR code, while offering a more engaging and playful experience.

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The technology offers businesses the opportunity for on-brand visual interaction for products, packaging and services and could offer a unique user interaction for museums, galleries and a range of other public spaces.

It uses an app which can be downloaded on to a smart device and can then be used to scan the aestheticode — the app does not recognise the image but scans the topography of the image.

Richard Mortier, a Transitional Fellow at Horizon, said: “Here we allow everyday objects to become more interactive without compromising on their aesthetics. Graphic designers have produced a wide range of visually appealing motifs and patterns that can be used to trigger delivery of different information depending on the design and the app that reads it – for example, pointing your smartphone at the pattern on a menu in a restaurant could give you information on the special of the day.”

Aestheticodes offers programming, app development and graphic design services and can produce a full bespoke branding and interactivity service. It will continue to implement the latest research and innovations to offer customers the most up-to-date service.

The original research underpinning the company was conducted in collaboration with academic partners Central Saint Martins and Brunel University and commercial partner Busaba Eathai.

The researchers are continuing to develop the technology through Horizon, where they are working with ceramic designers to explore the creation of new ceramic shapes, patterns and textures that are both aesthetically pleasing and digitally trackable.

Horizon is a research institute which undertakes digital economy research. Funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK), The University of Nottingham and more than 100 academic and industrial partners, the institute comprises both a research hub and Doctoral Training Centre.

Building on the Digital Britain plan, Horizon research focuses on the role of ‘always on, always with you’ ubiquitous computing technology. Its aim is to investigate the technical developments needed if electronic information is to be controlled, managed and harnessed, for example to develop new products and services for societal benefit.

More information on aestheticodes can be found on the following website.


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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Amanda Cooke, Marketing & Communications Officer at Horizon on +44 (0)115 8232554,

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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