QR Bar Codes – What are they?

15 11 2011

QR (quick response) bar codes seem to be all the rage right now – which is really interesting as they are basically an old technology.

Toyota came up with them over a decade ago for  fast, accurate scanning of parts in the automotive industry. It’s only really been the advent of the smart phone that has sparked all the interest in QR codes. With high quality cameras and access to the web – the phone is now able to operate as a remote scanning device.

Today  over 30% of phones being manufactured, are smart phones  – and that percentage is likely to double within the next few years. So we will see many new mobile innovations, of this type, arrive in the near future.

To read a QR code you need only download a free application onto your phone. Go to your apple or android “app store” or google and search for “free QR code reader” and  follow the instructions from there. Most of the “reader” sites will guide you to the best application for your particular phone model. I have found “i – nigma” to be very fast and reliable  http://www.i-nigma.com/Downloadi-nigmaReader.html

Once you have the “reader” you are able to read any QR code you come across. The code can be used to link to websites, web pages, web forms, videos (You Tube), or just plain text all via your phone. We have really only just started getting creative with these things.

Then have some fun by generating some of your own QR codes to scan. There are plenty of sites that generate QR codes  – google “QR code generator” or try this one http://www.qrstuff.com/ . There are now all sorts of variations such as multi colour, logo included etc able to be generated.

The real estate industry has probably been the quickest to embrace QR codes. In Japan/ Korea and North America real estate agents have been placing QR codes next to each house listing in magazines and on “For Sale” signs (on the street outside the property) for years now. Folk flicking through real estate magazines over a latte in the coffee shop, can scan the QR code in the magazine and link to a virtual video tour throughout the whole house. Likewise, someone passing the For Sale sign (including the nosey neighbour) can scan the QR code to take the virtual tour of the property from the street. When selling houses is often related to the amount of  “show throughs” – the appeal of this technology is obvious to real estate agents and house hunters. Some Kiwi real estate agents have been using QR codes for over 12 months now.

Other common uses are survey pages of a websites, application forms, photo slide shows, club card codes, shopping pages etc. They have even been used for labeling kids clothing with name and address details.

QR bar codes and their application have already spawned some related technologies but I will save that for future blogs.

Give me a call if you want to know more or to talk about how QR codes may be used in your next marketing campaign (or any other part of your business).