QR What?

Office Blogmaster: “Sara- this month we’re focusing on QR codes, so make sure you include them in your next blog post”

Me: “Um, what’s a QR Code?”

That’s right.  I, Sara Gorsky, am the only person in the world apparently who doesn’t know what a QR code is.  It’s shocking.  However, thanks to this marvelous thing called the “internet” I was able to discover a whole new world of technology that I was looking at the whole time but could never see.  Just in case some other people out there are in the same boat as me, here is what I have learned…

What is a QR Code? In simplest terms, a QR Code is INFORMATION!   It could be any kind of information, and it’s in the form of a sort of modern bar code.

How can I access this “information”? QR codes are designed to be read by mobile devices with a camera.  In order to do this, you will have to download an app designed specifically for this purpose. There are a plethora of free apps out there that do this. I simply went to the app store on my iPhone did a search for “QR Reader” and up popped a free app called “QRReader“, which took a mere five seconds to install.  Once you have this app installed, open it up and scan the QR Code.  The app will read it and translate it into english and/or action.

Action? The most common information contained in a QR Code is a link to a website. For instance, a QR code on a movie advertisement might link directly to the official website for that film.

Might? Well, as I said before the QR Code could be any information.  That same movie poster QR Code could link to a special trailer that can only be viewed by people who scan it, or maybe a coupon for discounted movie tickets.

Coupons?! Yup.  More and more companies are using QR codes in this way.  As smart phone platforms expand, QR Codes could become the next circulars.  Some grocery stores are already swapping out those old coupon dispensers for a cleaner, more eco-friendly QR code (grocery stores have also starting posting recipes next to items.  How convenient!).

How Else are QR Codes Being Used? There is a new use for QR codes almost every day. Here are a few super cool ways they have been used so far…

  • Tours and Museums: Historical tours, factory tours, museum tours, you name it- they are adding QR codes next to buildings, objects, artwork, display cases, etc…these QR Codes often will pull up a paragraph or two about the specific object and/or links to a webpage with this information.  Some of these codes even link directly to a wikipedia page, or a video of a historian discussing it’s significance. Soon those giant placards will be a thing of the past, too.
  • In gardens: QR Codes have started popping up at gardens and often contain the detail about that specific plant. QR codes have also started showing up at nurseries, where they contain information about how to care for the plant (how much sunlight & water it needs, what time of year it blooms, etc…).
  • On tags: Clothing designers have started using QR codes on their tags.  These QR codes often contain price, material type, and sometimes links to the designer’s website or online store. Social media gurus predict that soon we’ll be able to use QR codes to check if that piece comes in a different size!  AMAZING!
  • At transit stops: A few cities have started posting QR codes at bus and train stops which will automatically pull up the next arrival time.
  • In advertisements: These codes often contain coupons for the product they advertise or might link to that company’s online store where you can purchase the item.
  • On business cards: Gone are the days of business cards being packed with information, one QR code can contain all the pertinent contact information as well as link directly to your website.
  • On bottles of wine: Scanning one of these QR codes often pulls up information about that particular wine, what foods it pairs well with, how it was made, and information about it’s vineyard.
  • There are hundreds and hundreds of other possibilities.  Check out a few more in this handy article.
This QR code links to a petition to save the gulf after the oil spill.

This edible QR code links to information about the origin of food being served.

Can I create my own QR Code? YES! It’s very simple. Some QR reader apps also have the ability to create them as well. My handy app will let me create a QR code for text, for a website, for my contact information, for a location, for an email address, and even for a phone number!  That’s right – I can create a QR code that will automatically call me from that person’s phone if they scan the code.  Whoa!

In conclusion– soon Star Trek will be real life.

AstekArrow4.jpg This post was featured in ePiphany, Astek’s Monthly Newsletter |  Other ePiphany Articles

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  • Loving your topics on QR codes! I’m inspired to maybe incorporate them in our product. We produce fair trade products that we have to sell primarily through businesses who then sell to the end-user. This makes it difficult for us to educate the end-user at the point of purchase that the product is fair trade produced, what that means, and how the artisans benefit. I’m seeing a QR code on our product in the future…

    • Thanks for the comment! Actually that is a great use of QR codes which has been gaining a lot of traction lately. I’ve started seeing QR codes pop up at boutiques and such. What a cool idea- to be able to scan a QR Code and find out the origin of a product and who you support when you buy it right at the point of sale!

  • Great outline of the use and purpose for QR codes! We are using them on all sorts of promotional merchandise too–on tee shirts for special promo offers only available to folks at a particular conference, on tags that hang on caps to show new product introductions, on mugs to keep folks in touch with the newest product information and on keytags to keep touch on a weekly basis for motivational sayings! We can now even create customized QR codes that incorporate logos and more!

    • Holly- I’m glad you found the post useful! It seems like everyday I see a QR code being used in a new, unique way. It sounds like you are already doing lots of interesting things with QR codes. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  • This article gives all details about QR codes. Sarah, Where can i get a customized QR code designed for my company’s ads?

    • Barbara- most of the apps you can download on your phone also give you the ability to create the QR Code yourself. You can also create one through a number of free websites. Astek has used and been pleased with http://qrcode.kaywa.com/, for example. Once you have the QR code/image created, you will want to integrate it into your media (printed, online, etc…). Most QR creators will export it as a plain old .jpg file. Just keep in mind that if you want to link it to your website make sure you have a mobile optimized version of your site or else it may be difficult for people on mobile devices to navigate around the site.

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