I claim a surprising winner during the pandemic is the humble QR code.
That Was Then
First, some history. For a fuller accounting, see the link above. QR codes were developed for the Japanese auto industry in 1994. They've been reviled, despised and abused since. Their use is mainly to take you to a web page. Some people miss this concept. I remember one friend who had a client who insisted that the QR code for their website appear on the site's homepage. Think about that for a moment.
In earlier days, you had to have a special app on your phone to process QR codes. Microsoft got in the game with their alternative: the High Capacity Color Barcode. Because clearly what's needed wat to insure that thermal or other monochrome printers couldn't participate. This, of course, required yet another special app to read. It died back about 2013. USA Today was the only one I remember ever using it. I've had conversations over the years with people who reviled QR codes.
This Is Now
Now, the default Android and iPhone apps understand QR codes natively. Just point your camera at one and follow the prompts. The pandemic had caused an uptick in the usage of QR codes because they're a quick-and-easy way for restaurants to implement contactless menus. Marla and I were at a BBQ place the other day and on every booth was a printout of the menu's QR code and instructions on how to access it. But notice something else. As with many BBQ places, they generate a secondary income stream by selling advertising space to other businesses. This is sometimes signs on the wall, or in this case: table space. In looking through the ads, I see over half (15 out or 28, if I counted correctly) also carry a QR code. This makes sense, as people have to demonstrate the ability to use a QR code in order to eat. Perhaps every dog does have its day. Are you seeing an uptick in QR code usage? What are some innovative uses you've seen?