Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What are QR codes?

What are QR codes?  "Quick Response codes" are those little boxes full of black & white squares that you see all over printed advertising and product labels these days.  By scanning a QR code with your camera phone, you will be taken directly to a web site that presumably tells you more about the product.  With the proliferation of smart phones these days, QR codes do a much better job than do printed URL's of bringing people to your web page because they're so much simpler to use.

QR codes were invented by Toyota back in 1994 as a means to easily track products through the manufacturing process.  They've evolved somewhat since then, and now come in various sizes and complexities.  In short, they're a bar code on steroids because they can represent so much more data in a compact form.

You don't have to be a manufacturer to make use of QR codes.  When I put my 1977 Jeep Wagoneer on sale recently, I put a "for sale" sign in the rear window with a large QR code so that anybody sitting behind me at a stop light could scan it from inside their own vehicle and immediately be taken to a web page full of information and detailed photos of my truck.

I did some hunting for online apps that would generate a QR code for you from a URL.  By far the most flexible one I found was GoQR.Me.  They allow you to save the largest version of your QR code, a 1000x1000 PNG image.  They also present you with embeddable links if you want to go that route.

Time will tell how well my QR-enabled "for sale" sign works, but it certainly makes life easier for a passer-by who wants to know more about the vehicle in front of them.

Got any other innovative uses for QR codes?  Please share them in the comments below!

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