Get a P8TCH at the Boing Boing Bazaar

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New at the Boing Boing Bazaar! Attach a P8TCH to your tunic, jerkin, breeches, or panatloons! People can take photos of the unique QRcode with their smart phones and get redirected to your website. Isn't that much easier than handing out a business card?

For $24.95, the buyer gets a 2x4-inch, velcro-backed commando patch with a cryptic design, and a unique QRcode.  Not "unique" as in "remarkable", but rather "unique" as in "each patch is different from every other".  Each patch has a short URL embedded on it that is controlled by the owner. You can choose to send it to your RSS feed, a PayPal donation page, or a YouTube video of last week's comedically inept attempt to sled down a hill.

Since you control the unique QRcode, you can put the code on other crafts, and it will work the same way as your patch.  That's something you can't do with other link-shortening services. They (for good reason) won't let you change the target of a link after you've created it. Here, the power is ALL YOURS, for good... or for AWESOME.

P8TCH: velcro-backed commando QRcode


  1. Kudos to people who have it point to 2G1C or Goatse its a wonderfully cryptic way to gross people out at parties.

  2. Their use case is something like:
    A: “you’re cool”
    B: “wanna internet stalk me? scan this”
    A: “sweet thanks, you just rickrolled me with your patch”

    But in reality:
    A: “you’re cool”
    B: “wanna internet stalk me? does your phone do QRCodes? you can download an iphone app and take a photo of this patch”
    A: “but I don’t have an a) an iPhone, b) a phone does this c) the time to download some app right now and d) any desire to stalk you anymore.”

    That said I saw these all over Tokyo, so… some large techie population is using this sort of thing.


  3. I feel somewhat out-of-line in posting this, but comment #4 made me realize that I could use a QRCode app on my iPhone, and I notice the article image displaying an iPhone screen. I therefore come to you asking for a proper QRCode app, as using the search function turns up a few low-rated apps.

  4. When discussion of Microsoft’s pet barcode technology came up a while back(might have been on slashdot) there was considerable concern. Instead of the QR code, which can encode an arbitrary sequence of the user’s choice, Microsoft’s Tag was a restricted little chunk of data that depended on a Microsoft server to be redirected to the desired URL. And that chunk was tied to a particular account, so it could be tracked, billed, or shut down at any time.

    While I have no reason to believe that our humble and charming merchant here intends any evil, his product has exactly the same architectural features: instead of getting the advantage of QR code’s arbitrary encoding ability to point to my URL of choice, I get a fixed-purpose tag that points to a server I don’t control. I have no idea what that server is doing with the information about when and how often my tag is scanned, nor do I know how long it will remain up, and whether it will obey my redirect preferences in the future.

    I’d definitely pay to have the string of my choice, QR encoded, embroidered on a snazzy patch, with that string being a URL that I control. Being tied to somebody else’s URL shortener, though, makes me nervous.

  5. “That said I saw these all over Tokyo, so… some large techie population is using this sort of thing.”

    That would be everyone – basically all phones have a QR code reader built into the baseline software. Once it becomes ubiquitous it’s really, really useful.

    “I therefore come to you asking for a proper QRCode app, as using the search function turns up a few low-rated apps.”

    I use QuickMark and have been very happy with it. Costs a dollar but has worked very consistently for me. It suffers from the usual idiots who give something a 1-star rating when they don’t understand what it does.

    BTW, anyone else noticed that the QR code on the right above links to a dead MobileMe account?

  6. @oasisob1 that’s exactly correct; just be sure to make a kitty-hork noise when you say it “pHORKK-k-kthch!”

    I’m the vendor, and I just say “patch”, the eight was so I could register the domains “” and the very short “” swiss domain, which fits in a small area.

  7. @#3, re, the most cumbersome possible goatse:

    This is my FAVORITE thing that I did with my own patch:
    1) Recorded a short video of my friends’ mom, saying “hi honey! is THIS your card?” and holding up the seven of hearts.
    2) Posted the video to YouTube, and linked to it from my p8tch.
    Okay, with setup over, I
    3) Asked my friend to pick a card, any card. They picked the seven of hearts (there are many ways to force a choice, starting with the least elegant but most effective method of purchasing a deck that is 100% seven-of-heartses; you can use your favorite method.)
    4) Triumphantly held up the two of clubs. “PRESTO! This is your card!”
    5) Acted extremely chagrined to be told that this is not their card.
    6) Trying to change the subject from my embarassment, show them my spiffy new p8tch
    7) They scan the QRcode with their iPhone, and up comes the YouTube video OF THEIR OWN MOMMA HOLDING UP THE SEVEN OF HEARTS

    That was worth EVERY MOMENT of the setup it took.

  8. Yeah, I just dropped the $0.99 bones on QuickMark. My wallet is still hurting.

    I kinda wish I had it install when I was in Tokyo though.

    I imagine this will take off just slightly more than exchanging PGP (GPG) keys with people. The patch thing still seems weird tho. I don’t rock any article of clothing enough…

    oh wait:

    Perfect. Google images say there’s one dude with one on his arm. Nice.

    I sure as hell wouldn’t put in some shortened domain from some company that will not last as long as the tattoo, though.

    1. You can direct the shortened URL to redirect to an HCARD which in turn contains links to your bliggety blog, your professional portfolio has your email address, and

      (drum roll pls)

      your PGP public key!

  9. @phisrow you are absolutely 100% correct, both about my humility and charm, but also about the irony of taking an open format, like QR, and turning it back into a “report to the mothership” URL. Believe me, the irony is not lost on me!

    I completely agree with you that open formats are crucial. In this case, the server serves two purposes:
    1) The domain is short enough you can use a small QRcode (for those that don’t know, QRs can hold any amount of data; they just get bigger the more data they hold), and
    2) Since the URL is “recyclable”, you can use the same p8tch to point to your RSS feed in the morning, your LinkedIn account in the afternoon, and, um… your DeviantArt profile at night?

    You only have my affirmation that I’m not doing Anything Nefarious(tm) with the data, which you’d be completely right to treat cautiously. And by all means, we should encourage folks to get out there and make crafts with their OWN urls, using this open format!

  10. @nutate I 100% agree with you, re: a tattoo. In fact, in my FAQ, I directly plead with people: DO NOT GET MY SHORTENED URL TATTOOED ON YOUR BODY. :P This is a cottage-industry hobby-project sort of a thing, and there’s no WAY I want to commit to powering your pectoral tat for the next ninety years.

    Plus, the desire to maliciously rickroll (or Goat-roll, or Keyboard Cat-roll) your tramp stamp would be almost impossible to resist, from my sysadmin’s chair. Please — don’t make me have to fight that kind of temptation.

    1. Okay, cubicplackpig, PREPARE TO BE IMPRESSED:

      In addition to velcro-backed p8tches, I also make and sell needlepoint patterns, so you can stitch up a cunning little pillow with a redirectable barcode on it. This is COOLER than a jumper, because QRcodes _can_ be machine-knit, but no such technology exists for needlepoint and other hand embroidery yet!
      *beats chest* :)

    1. Damn it, cubicblackpig! I bet you won’t be impressed by our project to embed QRcodes in the asphalt of city streets, then, will you?

      You’re a tough crowd! A jumper it is, then. *takes book on knitting out of the library*

  11. Only available for shipping to USA, Canada and Japan? Stop teasing the other 6.226 x 10^9 of us, boingboing.

  12. The ‘inconvenience’ that people experience with QRcodes is likely because most non-Japanese makers don’t do much to make scanning them an integral part of the mobile device.

    On most Japanese devices it’s usually only a couple clicks away.

    1. Anon, my pride as the seller is slightly wounded when you say “much MUCH cheaper”, as if I were selling a tincture made from the corneas of French gnats. Inkjet transfer paper, like the stuff referenced at the link above WITH THE EXTREMELY FAMILIAR FLAME DESIGN ON THE PATCH, AHEM, is not all that cheap.

      But that’s, of course, besides the point. My goal here is to play with barcodes, and the more the merrier — everyone should be aware that this is an open standard!

  13. QR Codes are cool, but URL shorteners aren’t. They break URLs as soon as the site goes down. No thanks.

    1. Good point, coaxial.

      Probably the best thing to do is to run your final target URL through an URL *lengthener* service first, like or

      Then, set your custom URL at to point to that carefully pre-LENGTHENED URL. Which, finally, points at your website.

      That way, things average out, you see, and you’re *totally protected* from single points of failure.

  14. I have a 8inch square QRCODE on the back of my LandRover Defender that links to a goatsx url. Not sure if I have caused any road accidents yet.

    1. sf, please please PLEASE tell me that your eight-inch goatse QRcode is right in the middle of your spare-tire cover. With some fingers on either side of the spare tire. OH PLEASE!

  15. This is a fantastic idea. I love the idea. Plus what another person commented about the cards and video taping someone’s mom. That’s fantastic!

    I had written an article on both QRCodes and Microsoft’s Tag for our company.

    I was exploring the use of QRCodes and how they are used by some of our customers. It’s quite a fun side of computing.

    I will definitely have to get some of these patches for our jackets at work. Thanks for the information.

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