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QR Codes – What Are They and Why?

QR Code

QR Code for this blog

What is a QR code?

According to Wikipedia:

A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) designed to be read by smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, a URL, or other data.
Created by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. The QR code was designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.

What Are QR Codes Used For?

QR codes were originally designed for tracking parts in car manufacturing, where it is important to be able to read the information rapidly during the assembly process.  Now, however, they are becoming ubiquitous, and are especially geared toward use with smartphone applications.  QR codes appear in magazines, on business cards, on buses, on signs – almost anything that can convey information.

The major benefit of a QR code over a conventional barcode is the ability to hold much more information.  The normal barcode is limited to 20 numerical digits, but a two-dimensional QR code can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters.  Combined with their user-friendliness, this makes QR codes useful for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

How Do You Read QR codes?

Many smartphones with cameras have the software already installed.  If yours does not, it’s easy to find an app that you can download and use.  You don’t need any more equipment than a smartphone with a camera.

If you have a smartphone equipped to read QR codes, try this trick next time you are shopping.  Pick an item you might be interested in and scan the QR code from it into your smartphone.  You should be able to read the information stored in the QR code right there on your phone!

It’s worth mentioning here that there are other codes that are proprietary, such as Microsoft Tags, but QR codes are open source  and can be scanned and used with a variety of apps, giving much more flexibility than the closed-end solutions.

What is the Point?

Good question!  In fact, there are plenty of ways you can use QR codes to promote your business.  Watch out for my next post, when I’ll list some of the best ways to benefit from this new technology.

Meanwhile, have fun creating free QR codes at http://qrcode.kaywa.com