P8tch Review – QRCode patches for geeks

First up, I’m going to assume that our readership knows what a QRCode is. Don’t worry if you don’t, just pop over to wikipedia’s entry on QRCodes and have a quick read. It’s ok, we’ll wait for you to come back.

All up to speed on the QR craze?, excellent. Now then, I’m a sucker for startups that sell an actual physical product. Anyone with half a clue and a computer can start a software company but to actually make a physical product that people can hold in their hands requires hard work, serious planning and a large chunk of the founders money. Usually all those things are required before the first sale is ever made.

I’m not sure P8tch creator John Young would even call P8tch a startup but as a customer of his “hobby” I’ve experienced the excellent personal service I’d expect from a young startup. John’s product idea is simple, but brilliantly executed; order a P8tch from the website (cunningly located at http://p8t.ch) and John will send you a 2″ x 4″ velcro backed polyester patch printed with your choice of graphic (there are six designs to choose from) and a unique QRCode of a URL on the p8t.ch server (more on this in shortly). You’ll also get a couple of 2″ x 4″ sheets of velcro that you can stitch onto things in order to attach the patch.

When your p8tch ships you’ll get an e-mail containing some PNG files of your unique QRCodes, your matching URL and a login to the p8t.ch server so you can point your p8tch URL to something more meaningful.

If you’re like me (and I hope for you’re sake that you aren’t) you already wear the sort of clothing that has velcro attached for patches (see photo) and you can just slap a p8tch straight on there and hit the town where passers-by will notice your QRCode, scan it and be amazed by whatever you’ve linked to.

At least, that’s the plan, and that’s EXACTLY how it would pan out if you went to the sort of gatherings I go to (MIR Unlimited Drinks, Mobile Geeks of London, MoMo… you get the point). So this is a product entirely for hardcore geeks, since QRCodes haven’t really had any widespread acceptance outside of Japan I can’t really see this taking off with normobs any time soon.

There are other issues as well, being a US product the p8tch site often mentions how it can be scanned with the iPhone. Unfortunately due to the limitations of the device the iPhone is a dreadful QRCode reader while the N95 and most of Nokia’s S60 camera phones do a fantastic job of reading the code from my sleeve using any of the freely available readers (personally, I use Quickmark).

Last but not least, the designs. Artist Kenn Munk designed the six images that adorn the p8tch’s and to be brutally honest they are very stylised and, with the exception of the flame, not entirely to my liking. As with all things art though, it’s in the eye of the beholder.

So that’s p8tch. I love the idea and will endeavour to wear mine at all times… keep an eye out for me at the next mobile event I’m at because you never know when scanning my p8tch will result in a message saying “Hey, thanks for scanning me… if you show me this message I’ll buy you a drink!”

We have a flame design p8tch to give away in next week’s MIR show so keep an eye out for that as well as some more p8tch coverage, if you can’t wait until then you can pick one up from http://p8t.ch for the very reasonable price of $19.95.

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