Can You Hide Secret Messages in Custom Clothes?

Smart PJs Image source:

QR codes have become pretty popular thanks to smart phones and wifi-connected tablets. They allow consumers to get updates about their favorite products and services without needing to hunt through the Internet for the right download link.  

The problem? They're freaking ugly.   Those giant black and white boxes just aren't very pretty with their tiny pixelated blocks. Luckily, designers have been working on new ways to transform images into smartphone data.  

Enter Smart PJs, which are being touted as the world's first interactive pajamas for children. The pajamas are covered with clumps of colorful dots. By themselves they look fairly simple. If you didn't know that these had a digital component, then you would probably just assume that the dots are part of the design.  

Smart PJs Dots Image source:

They actually serve another purpose. Parents with smartphones or tablets can scan the dots in much the same way that they'd scan a QR code. The smartphone will then give the parent an educational bedtime story.  

It's easy to see how kids could get excited about this type of technology. The pajamas would make bedtime exciting by turning sleepwear into an adventure. Kids could roll the dice by picking a random clump of dots or they could pick a favorite. A common phrase could become, "Mommy, Mommy, I wanna hear the story on my ankle!" or, "I want to hear the story on my elbow!"  

I'm hoping that this type of technology gets picked up elsewhere. QR codes are great and all, but it's hard to incorporate QR codes into a design.

They just stick out because they're so freaking ugly. Smart PJs, on the other hand, open up a whole new world of design possibilities. You could theoretically design shirts and hats that have a beautiful design while incorporating this technology. Anybody who scans your shirt's graphic will get a link to your blog or company website. It's got all of the benefits of QR code without the distracting checkerboard pattern.  Smart PJs Image source:

Unfortunately, there are a few catches that limit Smart PJ technology right out of the gate. Unlike QR codes, which can have an absolutely huge number of combinations, the dots on Smart PJs are fairly limited. Also, average consumers wouldn't know to scan Smart PJ dots because they don't look like a barcode. This technology more than makes up for it with the fact that you can avoid unsightly QR codes and transform virtually any graphic into a hyperlink.  

I wouldn't let either of those concerns set you back. This is a marketing opportunity that's just waiting to happen. All you need is a clever advertising campaign and the right set of custom clothing, and you can have consumers snapping pictures of your company logo in order to unlock special deals and promotions.  

For example, you could hand out free t-shirts as part of a promotional campaign and tell each recipient that there's a secret code hidden somewhere in the shirt's design. All a person has to do is download a specific app and start snapping photos of the shirt's graphics in order to find the secret. You could turn a person's shirt into a miniature scavenger hunt as consumers search the graphic for deals and company info.

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