Short for “Quick Response Code,” QR codes are the strange black and white boxes you have seen appearing plastered on advertisements, billboards, business windows, and products over the last few years.
These barcodes can be captured with the camera from a smartphone or tablet and used to deliver additional content — for example, a typical QR code may contain a URL (website link). Scan the QR code with a mobile phone and you’ll be taken to the website the QR code specifies.
Unlike traditional UPC barcodes (the kind which you see on most packaging), which are made up of a number of horizontal lines, a QR code can be captured more quickly and can contain more information.
However, QR codes aren’t just a stuffy technology used to track items in warehouses and scan products at the checkout counter. They’ve moved into the consumer realm, where they’re found all over the place on advertisements, business windows, product packaging, billboards on the side of the road, and even on some websites.
What’s the Point?
For business owners, QR codes can provide a way to link your printed media with your online resources such as your website or social media accounts, and they are a must if you are a business that relies on printed media to market online products.
For consumers (not people working in warehouses), QR codes are intended to be a quick way to perform an action with your phone. QR codes don’t contain any fancy electronics or require special technology — they’re just a grid of white and black printed on a piece of paper that can be captured with any camera.
Typically, QR codes are captured with a scanner app on a smartphone. The app allows you to take a photo containing the barcode, then it locates the barcode, analyses the machine-readable data, and converts it to information meaningful to you.
For example, you may see a barcode on a billboard, business window, or a product’s packaging. After being scanned in this way, a typical QR code would probably take you directly to the businesses’ website. In this case, the QR code contains a website address (URL.) The point of the QR code is to allow you to easily access their website without typing any web addresses into your phone — just by scanning a picture.
How Can I Use QR Codes?
To generate a QR code for you URL or other resource all you need to do is pop over to a QR code generator such as the one at qr-code-generator.com and generate one for free.
If you want to read QR codes, all you’ll need is a barcode reader app on your smartphone.
- Android: Android has an included barcode reader that you can access by performing the “scan a barcode” voice action. You can also use an app like Google’s own Google Goggles or the popular Barcode Scanner.
- iPhone: iOS has many QR code scanner apps, including the popular RedLaser.
Just open your app, start a scan, point it at a QR code, and the app should recognize and take action based on the QR code — generally opening its website in your browser.
Want To Know More?
If you are still not sure how or when to use QR codes our design team can offer you some great advice. You can get in touch here or by calling 01695 578811