Barcodes link smart phones to galleries

Want to take a peek at Artists' Row after hours? There's an app for that.


Eleven member stores have attached new digital markers to their doors that allow smart phones to quickly link to their businesses' Web sites. Merchants hope the technology will give them another way to engage customers.

Missy Delp, a new Hephzibah resident who came downtown for First Friday, tried out the marker she saw taped to Zimmerman's Gallery. She snapped a photo of the 2-inch-square and within seconds a www address appeared on her LG Ally smart phone. Another tap of her finger brought up the Artists' Row Web page.

"Well, that's pretty cool," she said.

Artists' Row board member Tricia Hughes said she asked her husband, Peter, to make the digital markers for downtown businesses after seeing a similar system he developed for the Augusta Canal.

"It's very trendy," Tricia Hughes said. "We have a lot of visitors to Augusta that have heard of Artists' Row. The galleries aren't open 24 hours a day, so this would give people who come by the opportunity to see the stores' hours and bookmark the page in their phones for later."

Peter Hughes, a member of the Augusta Canal Authority, installed 14 digital markers along the canal's towpath in October. Called the Augusta Canal DigiTrail, the system links smart phones to specially designed Web pages that discuss the canal's historical and natural features. The Web-based interpretive trail can be updated at will, without replacing expensive signs.

"I'd seen people with smart phones, and they're really into using their applications," Peter Hughes said. "In 2014 it's predicted there will be more smart phones in use than desktop and laptop computers combined."

Smart phones can access the Internet and run applications. The digital markers Hughes used for the canal and for Artists' Row work like a barcode and direct smart phones to a Web page, he said.

At Augusta's Gallery on the Row, gallery president Sandra Whittaker said she thought the marker on her storefront would bring more customers.

"With artwork, exposure is everything. You can't say you love a painting until you see it," she said. "We're not open on Sundays. But with this, we could be open to your phone."