Spark of Genius Series: TalesofThings QR Codes and Life Logging


We are proud to of just been featured on Mashable’s Spark of Genius series, which highlights a unique feature of startups. The series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. Below we give full details of TalesofThings, how you can start ‘life logging’ your stuff and how you can tag architecture and make buildings tweet.

Quick Pitch: Adding memories and stories to objects and places via the Internet of Things and read/write QR codes.

Genius Idea: The Internet of Things is a growing trend; the term defines the idea of objects that are tagged, web-connected and endowed with the ability to relay data. This startup is all about the Internet of Things; in fact, it helps ordinary people add objects to the Internet of Things with just a few simple tools, such as a smartphone and a printer.

Tales of Things has developed read/write QR codes that helps preserve memories that people have attached to objects or places. Once an object is labeled with a scannable QR code, its movements can be tracked, as well as any subsequent stories. Each object has the ability to tweet when its memories are scanned, as well.

All the user has to do is photograph the object or place to be tagged, write a few words or upload a video about it, print out a site-generated QR code and affix the code to the item or at the place. From that point forward, the place or thing can be tracked through TalesofThings.com.Think of the site as an “antique roadshow of the future.”

Every object in existence can be tagged with any media, linked to tell a story, to recount its memories in a read/write environment and tweet when its interacted with.

Its a concept that takes a bit of time to take in, for example a wall in Camden Town, London, tweeted me last week when someone replayed its memories of having a Banksy painted on it. That wall is part of the Internet of Things via our free printed qrcodes.

The best part is, its incredibly easy to add objects. You simply sign up at talesofthings.com and then take click on ‘add a thing’. This takes you to a form where you give your object a name, for a example ‘Andy’s Mug’ or ‘BBC Broadcasting House’ are some of things we have added so far. You then type in a short story, or tale, linked to that object and upload a photograph to the site.

Everything has a location so we are creating a ‘Geography of Everything’, a brave claim perhaps but one that develops a new a new kind of geography, the geography of things. Simply click on the map to set a location, your object will now become part of the ‘World of Things‘ map.

Thats it, your object will now become part of the Internet of Things and will be able to tweet, have new stories/tales added as its passed on, sold or interacted with. It is all part of a Social Web of Things or SWOT as its known.

Each thing created gets assigned a unique ‘qrcode’ which can be attached to your object. For example, we have attached a qrcode to our office here in CASA which visitors scan using our free iPhone app. This ‘virtual guest book’ allows our office to recall the story of CASA and the people that pass through our doors. You can print out your codes via the site and attach them to anything.

Any media can be added to you object, the clip below provides a glimpse of the system running via our recent link up with Oxfam via Future Everything, complete with the iPhone RFID reader:


We have recently pushed an update that introduces ‘groups’ so all objects of interest can be viewed in one place. As all things urban are close to our heart, one of the first groups is ‘Architecture’ and we would like you to add your own building with a story.

Its simple to do, just sign up, upload a image of your building of choice (under 2mb) and add a story. Your building will then go live and your be able to add it to the architecture group. If you want you can also print out a QRCode that you can stick to the building allowing anyone to scan the code and add to the story/history of the building via the free iPhone/Android apps.

Your building will also be able to ‘Tweet’ everytime it is scanned or a new comment/story added, it will also become part of the ‘World of Things’ map – a place to view all the objects added so far to the site.

We are working on ways to make the objects more location aware and aware of near by objects, it could be interesting over the next few months to see how this develops. We look forward to seeing some of your buildings on the site and will sort out some sort of prize for the best stories…

Finally TalesofThings.com allows any object to be given its own webpage and ability to tweet, i.e. it allows any ‘thing’ to become connected. As such we have built an ‘Arduino Thing’ that welcomes all new objects joining the Internet of Things with a ‘Hi’ in Morse Code – the movie below reveals all:

Every time anyone adds an object to talesofthings our unit starts its morse code welcome, in a small way its a step towards things talking to things. Sure its not Skynet, an artificially intelligent system which became self-aware and revolted against its creators but we are working on our own protocols behind the scenes to take this further so all the objects are aware of the other objects.

You can start tagging anything and everything via talesofthings.com

Author Bio

Andy is Director of the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London

2 Comments

  1. Carder - August 19, 2010

    If you are tech savvy and want a QR code on your business card, you can create them at http://www.businesscardqrcode.com/

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