What is a QR Code?

QR or Quick Response code refers to a barcode that stores encoded information and it is used to link different data sources like vouchers or text. QR Codes encode data in horizontal and vertical tiny squares grid and this is one of the ways in which it defers from the regular barcodes that horizontally encode data. Most smart-phones such as i-phones and Android phones are now produced with applications that allow one to use QR Codes.

QR Codes usually have integrated URLs that divert users to web pages where they can more about a device, location or place in what is known as mobile tagging. The QR Codes are interpreted by special decoding applications or software on devices such as smart-phones. The QR Codes were initially used to track vehicles from Japan, where the codes were borrowed from after proving successful in tracking vehicles. However, their use has become widespread, and most businesses now use them and some of those businesses publish QR Codes in print media like newspapers, magazines, and posters etc. The QR Codes published are small in size and their pattern is usually integrated into beautiful images in print media or clothing. The published codes usually have information like consumer guides, promotion details, coupons, business cards, and consumer advice etc.

Some QR Codes published by some companies can also be used for advertisement, on social sites like twitter and Facebook. Others can be used to allow either restricted or general access to online shops for businesses. The QR Codes can be increasingly found in strategic places such as product labels, buildings and billboards, where passers-by can use QR Codes reading devices like mobile phones to retrieve the encoded information.

QR Codes can be used in mobile phones for a wide variety of purposes, especially, in smart-phones like Android phones. For example, QR Codes can be used to link a phone user to an online site directly from a magazine advert. In a more complex application, they can be used in applications, known as pintag, which link a business card directly to the Linkedln profile of the business card holder. This happens after one scans their smart-phone over the QR Code on the business card.

For a phone to decode the QR Codes, it needs to be installed with a supporting software or application. QRReader and Quickmarks are good examples of QR Code reading applications that can be downloaded and installed on phones. Most phones that have camera phones support this application but some smart-phones and android phones come with the application already installed by manufacturers. After installation of the applications, one just needs to launch the application, start the camera and pass the camera phone over the QR Code that one wants to be decoded. QR Codes are, therefore, important to most businesses, especially those that have online shops or those that require a lot of tracking of products like delivery companies or vehicle manufacturers. However, with new alternative applications, which offer competition to QR Codes, like Near Field Communication (NFC), coming up rapidly, it remains to be seen how QR Codes will evolve to remain equally relevant.