QR Codes . . . What are they?

I recently sent out an article to several of my clients that included a card with a QR code.  When I followed up to see if they had a chance to review what I had sent, one of my clients wasn’t actually clear on what a QR code was.  Now I love new technologies and the power that they bring into our lives but obviously not everyone is in tune with this technology.  So I thought I would cover QR codes in this post.

What is a QR code? At its most basic, a QR Code is an advanced barcode. They’re used for encoding information in two-dimensional space. Think pages of magazines, advertisements and Web sites. They are more useful than a standard barcode because they can store (and digitally present) much more data, including url links, geo coordinates, and text. Here is an example of a QR code: (Hint: It will take you to my website)

The quick response (QR) bar code was originally created by a Japanese company, Denso-Wave, to track inventory of auto parts, but have become popular (especially in Japan) for much broader commercial purposes. Because QR codes allow for more data, and because scanning requires less effort than typing a URL, QR codes are starting to show up seemingly everywhere. You can see them on business cards, in magazines, and even on TV.  I have seen QR codes on delivery trucks and even on the walls at airports.  

So how do you read or even create a QR code? The easiest place to start is with your SmartPhone. According to a study by ComScore, over 45.5 million people in the United States own smartphones. These ubiquitous devices offer you access to this exciting technology and like a box of Cracker Jacks, you never know what you are going to get.  

How does the cell phone read the code and how can I create one? First of all your smartphone needs a QR code reader. It takes literally 1 minute for someone with an iPhone, Android, or Blackberry to find and install the reader. I actually have QR apps on both my iPhone and Blackberry. Go to your apps store and you will find all that you need. You can easily generate a QR code using a site like Kaywa.com or simply Google QR codes and you can select from a variety of resources.

QR codes are only bound to become more common in the coming months and years. We’re increasingly reliant on our mobile devices, and typing out URLs or other data on their small keyboards is not very efficient. These squares of elaborately arranged boxes can open up a whole new world and we have only just scratched the surface of how they will be used. Many companies may not have figured it out yet but QR codes will be their best friends.

In the near future I will be posting some of my favorite uses for QR codes. There are some really cool applications and opportunities with QR codes and I plan to share them with you.  Feel free to post a comment if you have seen one and I will include it.

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Categories: Technology

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