What They Are
A Quick Response (QR) Code is a two-dimensional bar code used for encoding information. QR codes were originally created by Denso Wave in 1994 to track parts and packaging for manufacturing and production purposes, but businesses are increasingly finding new ways to use the technology.
When QR codes were first created, Denso Wave made the code open-format and the specifications were available royalty-free. This helped make QR codes popular in Japan and allowed easy adoption by industries beyond manufacturing. Before long, Japanese phone carriers agreed to implement QR software natively into camera-enabled mobile phones.
The matrix itself is an array of black and white squares where data is encoded. The most visible parts of the matrix that distinguish it from other two-dimensional symbologies are the three squares at the top and bottom left corners of the matrix. These squares are used to determine the positioning of the code, allowing 360 degree readability and high speed scanning. This image, courtesy of Wikipedia, dissects a QR code and provides more details on its structure.
One of the advantages of the QR code is the amount of data that it can encode. Compared to other two-dimensional symbologies such as Data Matrix, Maxi Code and Stacked Barcodes, the QR code packs the highest capacity for the smallest footprint (up to 4,296 alphanumeric characters).
The idea behind using QR codes is that they allow users to gather detailed information on physical objects using the Web and mobile devices, a term sometimes referred to as hard-linking. There are several practical applications for QR codes based on this idea, and as smart phone and mobile technologies have evolved, a lot of companies have jumped on the QR code bandwagon, using the technology for everything from mobile movie ticketing to making digital connections at conferences. Recently Google started using QR codes through its “Favorite Places” project. The idea is that Google distributes free QR codes to the top 100,000 searched-for businesses so they can display the code in a place that is visible to the public. Potential customers will see the code, and are able to use their camera-enabled communication devices to find out more information about that business (i.e., read reviews, get coupons, write reviews, etc.)
As another example, Facebook has generated a lot of buzz lately stemming from a rumor that the site is testing the use of QR codes for its user profiles and status updates. This means that your profile information would be embedded into a code that could be accessed on the go by anyone with a QR code reader installed on their mobile device. Switched.com recently noted the positive implications that this new option would have for businesses, but the privacy issues arising from this feature for individual users could be a real problem.
So what do you think? Is there a restaurant or other business near you that has used QR codes particularly well? How do you feel about having one of these codes associated with your Facebook profile? The next time you’re out on the town, see if your favorite restaurant or bar is using QR codes and check out the information that’s being linked to them. You might be surprised by how QR codes create new ways for you to interact with your favorite brands.
This entry was posted on Monday, April 5th, 2010 at 1:28 pm and is filed under Design and Development, Interactivity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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