QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix bar code (or two-dimensional bar code) first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. A bar code is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. A QR code uses four standardized encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte / binary, and kanji) to efficiently store data; extensions may also be used.
The QR Code system has become popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC bar codes. Applications include product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, general marketing, and much more.
A QR code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device (such as a camera) and processed using Reed–Solomon error correction until the image can be appropriately interpreted. The required data are then extracted from patterns present in both horizontal and vertical components of the image.
The QR code system was invented in 1994 by Denso Wave. Its purpose was to track vehicles during manufacture; it was designed to allow high-speed component scanning. Although initially used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR codes now are used in a much broader context, including both commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications aimed at mobile-phone users (termed mobile tagging). QR codes may be used to display text to the user, to add a vCard contact to the user’s device, to open a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), or to compose an e-mail or text message. Users can generate and print their own QR codes for others to scan and use by visiting one of several paid and free QR code generating sites or apps. The technology has since become one of the most-used types of two-dimensional barcode.
Originally designed for industrial uses, QR codes have become common in consumer advertising. Typically, a smartphone is used as a QR code scanner, displaying the code and converting it to some useful form (such as a standard URL for a website, thereby obviating the need for a user to type it into a web browser).
“In the shopping industry, knowing what causes the consumers to be motivated when approaching products by the use of QR codes, advertisers and marketers can use the behavior of scanning to get consumers to buy, causing it to have the best impact on ad and marketing design.” As a result, the QR code has become a focus of advertising strategy, since it provides quick and effortless access to the brand’s website. Beyond mere convenience to the consumer, the importance of this capability is that it increases the conversion rate (that is, it increases the chance that contact with the advertisement will convert to a sale), by coaxing interested prospects further down the conversion funnel without any delay or effort, bringing the viewer to the advertiser’s website immediately, where a longer and more targeted sales pitch may continue.
Although initially used to track parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR codes are now (as of 2012) used over a much wider range of applications, including commercial tracking, entertainment and transport ticketing, product/loyalty marketing (examples: mobile couponing where a company’s discounted and percent discount can be captured using a QR code decoder which is a mobile app, or storing a company’s information such as address and related information alongside its alpha-numeric text data as can be seen in Yellow Pages directory), and in-store product labeling. It can also be used in storing personal information for use by organizations. An example of this is Philippines National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) where NBI clearances now come with a QR code. Many of these applications target mobile-phone users (via mobile tagging). Users may receive text, add a vCard contact to their device, open a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), or compose an e-mail or text message after scanning QR codes. They can generate and print their own QR codes for others to scan and use by visiting one of several pay or free QR code-generating sites or apps. Google had a popular API to generate QR codes, and apps for scanning QR codes can be found on nearly all smartphone devices.
QR codes storing addresses and Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) may appear in magazines, on signs, on buses, on business cards, or on almost any object about which users might want information. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to awireless network, or open a web page in the telephone’s browser. This act of linking from physical world objects is termedhardlinking or object hyper linking. QR codes also may be linked to a location to track where a code has been scanned. Either the application that scans the QR code retrieves the geo information by using GPS and cell tower triangulation (aGPS) or the URL encoded in the QR code itself is associated with a location.
Recruiters have started placing QR codes in job advertisements, while applicants have started sporting it in their CVs and visiting cards.
In June 2011, The Royal Dutch Mint (Koninklijke Nederlandse Munt) issued the world’s first official coin with a QR code to celebrate the centenary of its current building and premises. The coin can be scanned by a smartphone and link to a special website with contents about the historical event and design of the coin. In 2008, a Japanese stonemason announced plans to engrave QR codes on gravestones, allowing visitors to view information about the deceased, and family members to keep track of visits
Mobile operating systems
QR codes can be used in Google’s Android, BlackBerry OS, Nokia Symbian Belle, Apple iOS devices (iPhone/iPod/iPad), Microsoft Windows Phone, Google Goggles, 3rd party bar code scanners, and the Nintendo 3DS. supports URL redirection, which allows QR codes to send metadata to existing applications on the device. m-bar code is a QR code reader for the Maemo operating system. In Apple’s iOS, a QR code reader is not natively included, but more than fifty paid and free apps are available with both the ability to scan the codes and hard-link to an external URL. Google Goggles is an example of one of many applications that can scan and hard-link URLs for iOS and Android. BlackBerry 10 devices have a native QR reader as well as several third party readers. Windows Phone 7.5 is able to scan QR codes through the Bing search app’s feature called Bing Vision.