I grew up loving the scavenger hunts my mom would prepare for me to find my birthday present or Easter basket. She would put quick little hints all over our house and I’d have to use them to figure out where the next clue would be. I kicked it up a notch with my kids, creating poems for the clues.
Now, you can turn that nostalgic scavenger hunt high tech with QR codes. QR codes (short for Quick Response Code) are the pixelated squares that were supposed to be the next big thing, but never really took off. Initially, you needed an app on your phone to read the black and white little squares. They could lead you to a website, or give more details on anything donning one of the QR codes.
Even though they never became the trendiest technology, they are useful. And QR codes are a fun and easy way to lead your loved one on a scavenger hunt for Valentine’s Day. Here's how to make it happen.
First, decide the locations you’d like to include and in what order. Consider using places that hold special meaning for the two of you. Maybe the spot you had your first kiss, the restaurant where you ate on your first date, or even the place where you said, “I Do.”
Find each of those locations on Google Maps and right click on the red pin. I’ll use my first date with my husband to illustrate. We went to Litzas Pizza in Salt Lake. When I type that into Google Maps, a red pin pops up on the location. Right click on the pin to see the drop down menu and choose “What’s here?” More information about the location will then appear at the bottom of the screen. Look for the geo location, which includes latitude and longitude coordinates.
Now find a QR code generator that supports geo location, or just use the one I like from the ZXing Project. Select "geo location" from the dropdown menu and enter in the coordinates. Make sure you are using periods as decimals, not commas, and pay attention to whether it’s a negative number. For instance, the latitude for Litzas Pizza is 40.760589 and the longitude is -111.870312. (The first time I entered the numbers, I forgot the negative on the longitude and my location ended up somewhere in Inner Mongolia.) Once you enter the coordinates, click "Generate" and the website will create the QR code for that location. You have the option of saving the QR code to either print out or send to someone digitally. When your loved one points their phone camera at the code, it will give the option of opening the location in Maps. This simple way to read QR codes is functional on iPhones and some Android phones. If your phone can’t read the QR code by pointing the camera at it, you may need to download a scanning app.Comment on this story
You could use this fun activity to lead your Valentine to their gift, or send them around town before ending up at your favorite restaurant for dinner. It could also just be a good way to keep someone away from the house for a bit while you get a candlelit dinner set up in your dining room.
Consider displaying the QR codes at each location in a fun way. You could decorate a poster including the code, use photoshop and make the QR code the mouth on your loved one’s face, have it hanging from a balloon bouquet, or just tape the plain old QR code to a window. The options are endless and it’s up to you to make it personal.
Happy geeky Valentine’s Day.