If you’ve been following this blog, you know that video is an excellent way to record and share biological, chemical, or physical phenomena. Of course, we want to be able to easily share videos with colleagues and students, such as at conferences. In an oral presentation, it’s relatively easy to embed a video in a PowerPoint or Prezi slideshow and share footage of a new species, a time lapse of a melting glacier, or some other event or process that is the focus of the talk.
With posters, though, you are pretty much stuck with a two-dimensional, static image and no obvious way to share a video about your research. Yes, you can write out the URL to a video in the narrative on your poster, but people are unlikely to spend time typing it into their smartphone or tablet. Although there are some conferences that provide electronic screens to display a virtual show of posters, these often are set up to show only individual images of submitted posters and do not support additional media such as video. Most of the conferences I attend are still using the traditional printed poster.
How do you share a video in a printed conference poster?
There is an easy way to share your video with visitors to your poster, and that is with a QR code. A QR (Quick Response) code is simply a unique barcode that contains information about something, for example a URL. The idea is that you get a QR code for the weblink to your video and display it on your poster. A visitor can scan the code with their smartphone and then watch your video. This is not a new idea, of course, but I’ve found that many people I mention it to have never heard of it and have no idea how to go about using a QR code to add video to a conference poster. So below, I’ve shown how to go about getting a QR code and how it works.
How do you acquire and use QR codes?
First, you need to have your video posted online somewhere, such as a video-sharing site. Then all you need do is to copy the link to that video (see provided URL under Share).
Second, you need a QR code generator. There are several such as this one. Below you see that I’ve inserted a link to the video, and the generator has created a unique barcode for it, which can be downloaded as a jpg.
Third, you must download and save the image. Now, all that’s needed is to paste the QR code image into your poster in an appropriate spot. Below, is an example poster with the QR code inserted (outlined in blue at the top of the middle panel), just to illustrate. You may want to make the QR code larger or more obvious to the casual reader than I’ve done here. In fact, until people become familiar with QR codes, you may need to draw attention to yours.
Also, you may need to provide brief instruction on your poster about what the QR code is and how to scan it with a phone or tablet. Not everyone is familiar with QR codes, so you should explain or show how to go about scanning the code with an app on a smartphone. This might be accomplished by creating an explanatory box with instructions, a diagram, or a photo. I’ve created an example below in which I show a screenshot of a barcode scanner app along with the QR code to my video. It is self-explanatory and shows how the app works.
In summary, you can use a QR code on a conference poster to share a video that displays a method or some other aspect of a study. You might even create a brief (1 minute) video to welcome visitors to your poster and to provide a quick presentation of your main findings. When people visit your poster, but you are not present, they can still get a personal tour.