What are QR Codes?

The words” QR code” are showing up frequently yet not everyone has any idea what they mean. The words or the design themselves are a fairly new trend in technology in the United States. They were designed, originally, in Japan during the 90’s and were used as industrial barcodes in warehouse and production situations. The original design came from a company called Denso Wave. They are currently extremely popular in Japan. The popularity of QR codes is on the increase in the US.

A QR code is a two dimensional data matrix barcode that holds information that can be rapidly decoded by a QR code reader. Original barcodes were designed to hold a set amount of information. They have been used for many years and one of the most common uses is in the retail world. Pretty much any product that you can buy is coded with a scannable barcode that allows a merchant to expedite the cash out process. Those same barcodes make keeping track of inventory and ordering additional products easier. As manufacturers saw a need to include more data in the barcodes they quickly ran out of space. A QR code, because it is two dimensional, can store data both vertically and horizontally. This ability means a much higher storage capacity.

QR codes, also known as quick response codes, need to be scanned by a QR code reader in order to decipher the data that has been encoded. The readers can be downloaded on just about any cell phone with a camera. There are many readers available to be downloaded and a number of them are free or low cost. Once a reader has been downloaded all a user needs to do is turn on the application and point the camera at the QR code. Some scanners require you to actually take a photo of the code. Others will focus and decode when they are centered on the QR code.

What kind of information might be found in a QR code? The possibilities are endless. Once scanned a code may display text on the screen of the phone. Perhaps the name of a business, address and hours of operation will appear. Maybe a company is looking to promote a certain product or service and you will see a coupon that encourages you to visit their place of business. Some companies have used QR codes to lead users on a scavenger hunt where they will have the opportunity to win a prize if the game is completed. Real estate agents use the barcodes to make information about properties for sale readily available to potential buyers. Small businesses will place a QR barcode in their window so a customer who shows up after hours can scan the code and be directed to company web page. This use may prevent the loss of sales revenue that could come from hours of operation.

QR codes are also being used in a more personal way. Job seekers are putting them on their resumes to direct potential employers to an about me page that can show the applicant’s individuality. There are companies that are making bracelets and cell phone cases that carry a QR code that contains a link to personal information about the wearer.

Whether these codes are used by businesses or individuals they are a new and innovative method of passing along information. They can be found on advertisements, catalogs, mail, newspapers, movie posters and in the grocery store. There are not many places that you would be unable to find these odd looking boxes that are so full of possibilities. Try them out and see how they can help you and your business to succeed.