What’s the Scoop on Those QR Codes?

By Amanda Bala

Have you seen a QR code? My guess is that you have, but you may not have known what it was. QR codes have been popping up everywhere on different products, art, tourism and now even in marketing.  So, what exactly are they?  In short, they are bar codes, similar to those you see on packages in the supermarket or other stores.  A QR code (short for Quick Response) is a specific two-dimensional barcode that can now be read by smart phones. You need to download a QR code application and just snap a picture of it with your camera (phone). From there the code will be decoded.  The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information that is on the QR code can be text or other data and can be decoded at very high speeds.

These codes originated in Japan, but are starting to catch on in the US and other parts of the world.  At first, the QR codes were being used in vehicle manufacturing, but over the past several years their uses have become very diverse.  And now through mobile tagging, you can get information from a code via text message, vCard or smart phone application.

QR codes can store addresses, website URL’s, product information and much more. They can be put on packages, in magazines, on billboards and signs and just about anywhere else a person might look to get information.  For example, a quick scan of a QR code, you could get all the nutritional information to compare two different brands of food.  You could scan a QR code on a brochure and get the data about a specific place.  You could scan a QR code in a magazine to find out the price, ingredients and where to buy specific make-up. You could scan the QR code of a restaurant and see their menu, prices, etc.  The applications go on and on.  There has even been some very controversial talk that someday people may have QR codes.  Just take a scan and know all there is to know about that individual.  Scary?  Maybe a little… but maybe the future. 

Not all smart phones have QR code reading capability. This is a technology that has been slower to catch on in the US then in the East.  However, if technology has shown us anything, it is that it is always changing.  QR codes may very well be the future in marketing and product advertisement.

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