What is a QR Code?

If you walked down the street and asked a bunch of people what a QR code is, I'm sure very few of them would know. But if you showed people a picture of a QR code, most of them will probably be able to recognized these box-shaped designs that are littered all over the place.

QR stands for quick response. These codes were invented to be scanned and decoded very quickly. I've only first seen them showing up mid-2011, but they've actually been around for much longer. In Japan, where they were invented in 1994, they were originally used to track cars throughout their manufacturing process. Only recently have they started to be used for marketing purposes in the United States.

As you can see from the picture, the code is composed of 4 main boxes, two large ones in each upper corner, another one of the same size in the lower left corner, and a smaller one near, but not against the edge, of the lower right corner. Here is a breakdown of all the main parts of the code: http://www.betterresponseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/qranatomy.gif . The encoded data area is the area that changes depending on where you want the code to take someone once it is decoded.

These barcodes, unlike regular barcodes that you see on cereal boxes and anything else that you buy in a store, are two dimensional. Regular barcodes contain information that is read in a horizontal direction. If you look closely at a UPC barcode, there are usually numbers along the bottom. The more information that is encoded in a barcode, the longer the code must be. QR codes are 2D so they can be read vertically and horizontally which allows for more information to be encoded in a smaller amount of space.

So what can you do with these codes? All you need to do if you have a smart phone, is download an app that will allow you to scan this code with your phone. There is a large amount of free ones available. Once you download an app, all you need to do is hold your phone in front of the code, and allow it to scan the picture. It will quickly decode it and either send you to a URL, a picture, a social networking webpage, or anywhere else on the web. It can also send you google map coordinates, text that will open in your notes or messaging area of your phone. I've also seen ones that will simply take you to an e-mail address or phone number, which actually for marketing purposes is an incredible idea. Although typing a number or email address into your phone was never that cumbersome, with the QR codes, it quickly lets you scan a person's contact information straight into your phone.

Some of the most common places I've seen these codes are anywhere in the mall, restaurants, stores, in mail, on advertisements for politicians and real estate agents, on coupons, business cards, and really anywhere that a person wants someone to learn more about their company or personal information. They also seem to be taking another direction as customizable art. People can print out a customized code, which leads to anywhere they want, on t-shirts, hats, stickers, and anywhere else. I even saw a video of a guy getting a QR code tattoo, and I'm sure he is not the only one.

Essentially these codes are simple to use and easy to make, so they are branching out to many different areas of life. Based on their current popularity, I think they're going to become even more common, and people will start using them more and more to make data communication and transfer speedy and simple.

What is a QR Code?

QR (quick response) codes were invented to be scanned and decoded very quickly. I've only first seen them showing up mid-2011, but they've actually been around for much longer.
Learn More

How to make a QR Code?

It's so easy to make your own QR code. All you need to do is find a free QR code generator, enter some information, and click create, and your own QR codes will be available in seconds.
Learn More

Scanning QR Codes

All you need to scan QR codes is a smart phone (internet capable phone). If you already have one of these phones, simply download an app that can read these codes.
Learn More