What is a QR Code?
A QR code, or “Quick Response” code, is the trademarked name for a certain type of barcode. They are usually small squares of black-and-white squiggles located on everything from event posters to retail shelves to hiking trails. QR codes are used to attract website traffic from geographic locations. Users simply scan the QR code with a smartphone or other mobile device and are navigated to a mobile page pertinent to that code’s location or advertised product.
The history of QR codes
The QR code was invented in 1994 by Denso-Wave, a Toyota subsidiary. It was used to track vehicles as they were assembled. The company still holds the patent on the technology, though they have made it available to all through a free license and even have published the spec online for use.
How QR codes work
QR codes work in two dimensions, much like traditional one-dimensional barcodes, but they store 100 times more data in the same amount of space. They are digitally scanned through the use of QR code reader apps on mobile devices. The code is translated through the placement of black and white squares within the image. Three large squares are meant to function as alignment targets, whereas a fourth square helps normalize the size and angle of the scanning device’s shot. The placement of the pixels in the middle of the code is where data is stored, each connected pixel creating a different character of data. Earlier versions of QR codes were able to hold only four characters of data, whereas modern codes can store more than 1,800.
QR codes have expanded in use beyond the auto industry to include many other avenues of business. They’re used for everything from inventory management to grocery information to online ticketing to logistics. Companies put QR codes on their flyers for event websites, business cards for Google Maps locations and hiking trail signs for information about the trail.
QR code readers
Most BlackBerry and Android phones have a QR reader built into their operating systems, so they can read QR codes out of the box. Free QR readers are also available for other smartphones, including the iPhone.
To use these code readers, users activate the outward-facing camera of their devices. Holding the camera element so that it has an unobstructed view of the code activates the scanner and accesses the stored data, loading any associated website information.
QR code generator
QR codes can be generated with barcode generator software. Google also offers a free generator. To create a code, enter the information you want to store — whether it’s a website URL or a short text phrase — into a text box. The generator then takes the data and integrates it into a code format, which when completed can be saved as an image and printed or used for marketing.