XPAND Code is going to be the foundation for how display information on smartphones.
Like QR Code and JAN Code/Barcode, it works via scanning.
When you scan the XPAND Code with your smartphone, it can then display additional information.

Ex: You scan an XPAND Code on the information board in a train station, and then your smartphone displays the train departure information.

By displaying information from guide boards and signs with your smartphone, more information can be provided to users.
In addition, the information is displayed in different languages in accordance with the language settings on the smartphone allowing for smooth translation to multiple languages.

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The XPAND Code is made for surface read from a distant position, like a type of hanging or wall-mounted signboards and signs. Additionally, the barcodes are designed to be slender so as to not get in the way of the main content on a display.

Ex: On signs at the entrance of a train station – Displays train information


Ex: On road signs – Plays movies with sightseeing information


Ex: On a city guide sign – Starts a voice guidance


So as you can see, “XPAND.CODES” refers to the whole package of redesigned barcode specifically made for signs and the smartphone display solutions.

How it’s Different from the QR Code

The widely used the QR Code was designed to be scanned at a close distance, such as documents, reports, and leaflets.
Therefore, in order for the QR Code to be scanned from a long distance such as signs to be posted on the head, it would need to be appropriately enlarged.
The horizontal slit-shaped XPAND Code, which was created with sign design in mind, effectively utilizes the sign space and provides expanded information in harmony with the rest of the design.

The QR Code, which fails to properly use a sign’s limited space and clutters it with a noisy design cannot help but feel largely unnecessary.

However, the XPAND Code and the QR Code are not meant to compete with each other.

QR Up-Close, XPAND Far Away

In truth, the currently released applications for reading the XPAND Code also support the QR Code.
Using the XPAND Code and the QR Code in tandem is the most powerful solution for tying together signs and internet.
With the XPAND Code on signs that have to be read from a long distance and the QR Code on those that have to be read from up close, a single application will allow users, whether near or far, to scan those codes and effortlessly bring together signs (that is, the real world) and the internet.
Naturally, the content to be displayed on the smartphones can be the same with both systems.

“QR Up-Close, XPAND Far Away” will be the new standard for how we bring together the real world and the internet.

XPAND Code Outline

Specifications (Partial)

Shape and Color Scheme Height and color of the code are adjustable
Type & Amount of Data 12 digits + 1 check digit numeric ID only
Linking Method D and the linked destination URL are connected on the XPAND Code server. Modifiable.
Branding In addition to the size and colors, the category name and the image on the left can also be changed (e.g. to a route symbol)
Cost and Rights XPAND K.K. owns the rights to the codes, and usage is offered for a fee.

“XPAND Code Q”, which incorporates the QR Code, allows you to place a QR Code as well. Through this feature, you can provide information both from signs at a long distance using the XPAND Code and from the documents in hand using the QR Code.

Comparisons between the XPAND Code and various trigger systems


There is a wide range of trigger technologies that use equipment set up to space to transmit data to smartphones.
Optical triggers for the XPAND Code and the QR Code are a classic example, and when combining the codes with signs we believe that they are also the optimal choice in terms of reliability, cost, and legibility.

XPAND vs Light ID
Light ID is a method for transmitting data using the high-speed and invisible flashing of an LED light source. The light signal is received using a specialized smartphone application that directs users to the appropriate content.
XPAND Light ID
Usable more than 5m away Yes Yes
Familiarity X Not well known X Small-scale tests are being conducted
Required applications X An XPAND-compatible barcode application X A specialized Light ID application
Necessary equipment for a provider None X Specialized light control equipment
Usable without power Yes X No

Other differences

  • Since Light ID is invisible, a sign (that is, a sign for the original sign) stating that a Light ID is present is necessary.
  • Since Light ID does not work well with black or other dark colors, design options are limited.
  • There is not much research on the effects of Light ID ‘s high-speed flashing lights on human body.
  • Since the Light ID reader engine is neither open nor standardized, the barriers to entry application and content creators are high.
XPAND vs Acoustic ID
Acoustic ID is a method for embedding inaudible signals in a voice announcement to transmit data. Users would receive the sound using a specialized smartphone application that directs users to the appropriate content.
XPAND Acoustic ID
Usable more than 5m away Yes X Depends on the environment
Familiarity X Not well known X Small-scale tests are being conducted at train/bus stations and airports
Required applications X An XPAND-compatible barcode application X A specialized Acoustic ID application
Necessary equipment for a provider None X Sound containing the Acoustic ID
Behavior when placed on multiple signs No problems with individual codes interfering with each other X Mixing of sounds may inhibit ability to make identifications
Usable without power Yes X No

Other differences

  • Acoustic ID would require the user to hold the microphone on their smartphone toward the sound source.
  • Acoustic ID is invisible, a sign (that is, a sign for the original sign) stating that a Acoustic ID is present is necessary.
  • XPAND Code allows for a detailed customization, such as placing a different ID on the front and back of a sign or on signs at different locations, even in an area laden with signs like train stations.
  • Acoustic ID application would require the users to hold the microphone toward the sound source, typically by holding the smartphone upside down, which could be a nuisance.
  • Since the Acoustic reader engine is neither open nor standardized, the barriers to entry application and content creators are high.
XPAND vs Beacons
Beacons are systems where a signal is periodically emitted from a transmitter and received by the smartphone. The receiver, such as said smartphone, would then direct the users to the appropriate content.
XPAND Beacons
Usable more than 5m away Yes Yes
Familiarity X Not well known iBeacon and other protocols are well known
Required applications X An XPAND-compatible barcode application X A specialized Beacons ID application
Necessary equipment for a provider None X Transmitter
Information distribution style Pull (receiver-initiated) X Push (distributor-initiated)
Usable without power Yes X Only usable with internal batteries

Other differences

  • Since beacons use pull systems, when the information is provided may not be when the users actually want it.
  • Since there is no need to worry about interference with the XPAND Code, fine customization like offering different content on the same sign (including on the front and back) is possible.
XPAND vs Image Markers
Image Markers are invisible codes embedded within an image. The codes are read using a specialized smartphone app that directs users to the appropriate content.
XPAND Image Markers
Usable more than 5m away Yes X Depends on a variety of factors
Familiarity X Not well known X Somewhat known, with several established standards
Required applications X An XPAND-compatible barcode application X Special applications for each standard
Ease of Set-up Easy; only codes need to be generated X Cumbersome; images must be individually registered

Other difference

  • Since Image Marker is invisible, a sign (that is, a sign for the original sign) stating that an Image Marker is present is necessary.
XPAND vs NFC
Similar to transit cards, general-purpose NFC enables information transmission at a few centimeters’ distance. The signal is read using a specialized smartphone application that directs users to the appropriate content.
XPAND NFC
Usable more than 5m away Yes X No
Familiarity X Not well known Widespread
Required applications X An XPAND-compatible barcode application X Specific application for each service
Necessary equipment for a provider None X Special equipment
Usable without power Yes X Only usable with internal batteries

Other differences

  • NFC requires a sign (that is, a sign for the original sign) saying, “Please touch here.”
  • NFC requires users to be up-close, and is therefore incompatible with hanging or out of reach signs.
  • An NFC-compatible smartphone is necessary to use NFC.
XPAND vs QR
XPAND QR
Compatibility with sign design Highly compatible X Takes up large area; not compatible
Usable more than 5m away Yes X Yes, but must be made very large
Compatible technology X Not well known Widespread
Required applications X An XPAND-compatible barcode application A standard iPhone camera or QR Code application

Note

  • A single application can process both XPAND Code and QR Code, such that both systems can be used to cover signage near and far.

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