What Are QR Codes?

Posted by on January 29, 2011

Get ready for the QR code frenzy. Actually it’s already here. What are QR codes? QR stands for “quick response” it’s a 2 dimensional barcode (datamatrix) that was created in Japan by Denso Wave. It was released in 1999 and filed with the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) in 2000. It recently gained popularity because of mobile phones and the ability to scan, store and deliver rich content which can be decoded at a high speed.

A traditional barcode

Here’s the exciting part… A traditional barcode only holds a maximum of 20 digits (numeric only), where a QR code can hold up to 7,089 characters! Incredible. Here are the combinations: 7,089 numeric only, 4,296 alphanumeric, and 2,954 binary (8 bits).  Companies are realizing its marketing power and individuals are able to share contact information in a new and fun way. Another neat thing about QR codes is you can scan it at any angle, where the traditional barcode has to be scanned in a fixed horizontal position.

I created my QR code so quickly and easily with Social QR Code.  The site allows you to create a Facebook “like” button, Twitter handle, a YouTube landing page (wow, a TV commercial embedded on a printed piece of collateral?) or coupon. And for mobile app developers, one of the biggest challenge is getting users to the appropriate page. What if your  potential customer doesn’t take the time to search for that app, or can’t find it in the list of over 100,000 apps in iTunes? Now you can create a link that takes users directly a mobile app store. You can also create a V-card with your contact information. This is an amazing solution for delivering content to the masses. I’m really excited about this technology and I’m interested to see how companies take advantage of QR codes. The marketing possibilities are endless.

I can imagine real estate agents using this technology to store images of home listings with details about the property and listing price. Users can flip through listings on their mobile devices and have contact information at their fingertips. No more piles of fliers while shopping for homes. Speaking of shopping, how great would it be to have a wish list of your favorite shoes? Say you come across a gorgeous pair of Jimmy Choo’s (For example… Me? I’d rather shop for electronics) But let’s just say you were out shopping and deciding on a pair of shoes. You could scan the QR code and save it in a wish list on your phone. You could even share it on Facebook with your friends and have them help you decide on which pair to purchase. I can see lots of fun uses for QR codes.

Scan my QR code! It's my Twitter handle. @maryannewendt

Here’s my QR code! It has my photo and link to my Twitter handle embedded in this cute geeky square. You can even print your QR code on your business cards, so that it can be stored electronically. Ran out of business cards at a networking event? Keep an image of your QR code on your mobile device or laptop and your new contacts can scan them right off your screen. Also, no more OCR (optical character recognition) issues. My biggest issue with these new scanning apps on mobile phones is that it isn’t always accurate. Not with QR codes! Ahhhh. I’m really loving this solution.

Now how do you scan this code? I searched on iTunes for an app for my iPhone4 and found QR Reader for iPhone. (It’s a free app.) I just tried scanning my code on my MacBook Pro’s screen with iPhone4 and it works beautifully. No scanner attachments or laser readers. The QR Reader for iPhone uses the camera. It takes a photo of it and reads it. This technology is just amazing. Some might think, “geeky.” I think it’s very cool.

Happy QR-ing! :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3224505 Tyler Coffin

    Nice article Mary! I appreciate the exposure! QR Codes will become very popular in 2011. I would love to hear any success stories you have with using SocialQRCode.com. Submit success stories on the contact form on the website.

    Thank you!

    • http://www.maryannewendt.com MaryAnne Wendt

      Hi Tyler! Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed my post. I would be happy to submit success stories on the SocialQRCode.com website. Thanks for connecting with me on Twitter too. :-)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1520912962 Dieter Martin

    Great Stuff. Thx’s for sharing.

  • Jim Walery

    Nice article. Simple and educational. We are looking at adding QR codes to our printed marketing material. We are a software company. Thanks for the post.

  • Jim Walery

    Nice article. Simple and educational. We are looking at adding QR codes to our printed marketing material. We are a software company. Thanks for the post.

    • http://www.maryannewendt.com MaryAnne Wendt

      Cool! Thanks Jim!

  • Jim Walery

    Nice article. Simple and educational. We are looking at adding QR codes to our printed marketing material. We are a software company. Thanks for the post.

  • http://twitter.com/boxOchatter Nathan Smoyer

    This is a pithy and insightful article regarding QR Codes. I’m so thrilled to see others are giving attention to this incredible tool that I have felt will be huge for some time now. I have taken the opportunity to put my QR Code on my business card – its done wonders for starting conversation!

    • http://www.maryannewendt.com MaryAnne Wendt

      Thanks Nathan! I think more people will be putting QR codes on their business cards. Way better than scanning regular cards with OCR. And it really does make for great conversation. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tracy-Leigh-Hazzard/100002586379239 Tracy Leigh Hazzard

    MaryAnne – too weird…I was just researching making custom QR codes for my design consulting business cards and happened upon link to you on socialQRcode.com. I thought it had to be a coincidence that it was someone I went to HS with, but it really is you. BTW – love the tiny techie blog. We should connect.

    • http://www.maryannewendt.com MaryAnne Wendt

      Hi Tracy! So nice to connect w/ you on FB! Have you connected w/ David K. too? My yearbook editors! Thanks for your comments, I’d love to catch up with you soon. My daughter is very interested in technology, art and blogging so I’m encouraging all of it! :-)