This past sweltering Saturday, on the football field at Esther Shiner Stadium, a Christian community-outreach group called Youth Unlimited attempted to break the Guinness world record for the biggest ever Quick Response Code.
Better known as QR Codes, the little black-and-white checkered squares have become ubiquitous advertising tools because they can be scanned with a smartphone. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that making a really, really big one was a zeitgeisty thing to do: The current record holder is a Quebec day-camp company called L’Air en Fête, who assembled a 15,625-square-foot code this February. Previous record-setters include a social-networking company in New York state and a “digital-media collective” in North Carolina, who battled for the title last October.
Notwithstanding the many precedents, Youth Unlimited organizer Zack Sandor-Kerr said on Saturday, “We wanted to do something fun, bold, edgy, and new. Also, something scannable.”
The original plan was that 1,369 people would each hold a single cardboard tile, bearing a fraction of the complete code, above their heads. A helicopter would then do a scan from the air.
But there were only about 250 participants on hand, so they began to lay the squares out on a massive grid marked by hundreds of Starbucks cups filled with water. When gentle gusts of wind threatened to derail the entire endeavour by flipping the squares over, they used sandbags and eventually their own shoes to keep the tiles in place.
“This has got to be some kind of record for most shoes, sandbags, and coffee cups on a QR code!” said Sandor-Kerr cheerfully. Teenagers sprawled across as many tiles as possible nodded in agreement.
The helicopter was ultimately able to scan the code, and Youth Unlimited will now work with Guinness to see if they’ll make it into the book.
With $20,000 in the bank for the charity so far, the event was already a win for Youth Unlimited. As the volunteers hauled the squares off to waiting trucks, one man noted yet another possible record: for the most cardboard recycled in a day.