About QR Codes
QR Code is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.
Ever since Gutenberg invented the printing press around 1440, printed material – be it newspapers, magazines, signs or clothing – has been a highly effective means of communication, with two big drawbacks: it’s static and it’s one way.
But that’s all changing, thanks to those postage stamp-sized little boxes of square dots that you’ve probably seen popping up in newspapers and magazines and on signs, flyers and even clothing.
They’re called Quick Response codes – QR codes, for short – and they give printed materials the ability to trigger a variety of actions when scanned by a smartphone’s built-in camera. Think of it like clicking a link on a website to jump to another page with more information.
Originally, QR codes were just beefed-up bar codes used by the automotive industry to track parts, since they could contain far more information than standard bar codes – up to about 4,300 characters per box. Toyota’s Denso-Wave subsidiary invented the format, which is now an ISO standard that’s available for use free of any license charges.
Now, however, they’re being used by advertisers and publishers to provide readers with a quick, convenient method of responding to printed materials or accessing more information.
Perhaps the most common use for a QR code is to display a web page with more information or a response form, but they can also be used to call a phone number, display additional text, add a contact to your address book or initiate an email or text message.
The whole point of a QR code is that it saves you the hassle of having to type a long website address or phone number into your smartphone, iPad or computer, making it far more convenient to take action based on something you see printed.
Imagine a story in a newspaper about a plane crash for which the publisher has more photos and video online. Rather than having to type in a lengthy web page address, you could just scan the QR code at the end of the story and jump right to the photos or video.
Or picture an ad for a sale on tires at a local tire store. Instead of needing to dial the phone number, just scan the QR code and you could be connected directly to the store to schedule an appointment.
How to use QR codes
To make use of QR codes, you’ll need a QR code scanner app for your iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile or Blackberry smartphone. Fortunately, most are free.
Just go to your smartphone’s app store and do a search for “QR scanner” or “QR reader.” QR Code City’s free “Scan” app works well on Apple’s iPhone. On Android phones, Kaywa is a popular choice, while Blackberry phones have native support for scanning QR codes. Windows Mobile users might find QuickMark to their liking.
Once you have an appropriate app on your smartphone, usage is basically as simple as launching the app, then pointing your phone’s camera at the QR code for a second or so, and then whatever action was specified in the QR code will be performed, such as displaying a web page.
The simplicity, compactness and flexibility of QR codes have already made them hugely popular in many parts of the world, particularly Japan and parts of Europe. And they’re gaining popularity in North America now, too. So don’t be surprised if you see more of those little blocky boxes on just about anything in the future. And now you know what you need to take advantage of the conveniences that they offer.
For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code
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