Alibaba Is Going Dotless To Revive The QR Code

The much-maligned QR code might be about to make a surprising comeback thanks to the backing of a new form of the technology by Alibaba.

The Chinese ecommerce giant has launched a platform for brands and product manufacturers that will enable them to place “Dotless Visual Codes” on product packaging so that consumers can scan to check a product’s authenticity and get information, discounts and recommendations based on their preferences.

The company also hopes that the codes will help reduce counterfeiting, particularly on Alibaba’s popular Taobao and Tmall online marketplaces, which the company admitted was a major problem earlier this week.


The new technology is launching on Alibaba’s Blue Stars platform, created by Visualead, an Israeli start-up that the company invested in in January 2015.

To scan the codes, which with their square design mimic traditional QR codes, consumers will need Alibaba’s Taobao mobile app, which now includes Visualead’s reader software.

Upon scanning the Blue Stars codes, consumers are then provided with extra information about the specific product, such as reviews or targeted online promotions.

Unlike the traditional codes, which features blocks of black and white, dotless visual codes are designed to embed a colourful image, logo, or a visual call to action, making them far more visually appealing and engaging to consumers. The new standard also utilises multiple information security and computer vision methods that make dotless visual codes more secure than regular QR codes.

Alibaba has already signed up brands including L’Oréal and Ferrero to create millions of unique dotless visual codes for their product packages sold in China.

“Alibaba Group is dedicated to providing our community of merchants with innovative solutions to help them grow in today’s mobile era,” said Zhang Kuo, director of Alibaba Group’s mobile business division. “We are happy to work together with Visualead to introduce its new Dotless Visual Codes standard to our merchants as an important part of our Blue Stars platform”.

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Mike Moore

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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