You may have seen a number of consumer reports that show how smartphone cameras can now be used to take a picture of a funny looking little box on products to find information and money-saving offers. This odd, black-and-white pattern (sometimes with a bit of color thrown in) is completely indecipherable to the human eye, but your smartphone can read this secret language known as a QR, or quick response, code.
The History of QR Codes
QR Codes were originally developed in 1994 by a subsidiary of Toyota known as Denso Wave in order to track auto parts. Initially, they were an alternative to standard UPC bar codes because their additional dimension allowed for denser data storage and faster decoding. Now that smartphones are QR code readers, this once obscure technology is expanding rapidly.
Current QR Code Applications
With one of the many QR code apps, like QR Droid or Quickmark QR Code Reader, you can scan any of these squares with your camera to access the stored information - or you can create your own QR codes to share with friends. This is an easy way to exchange contact information, geo locations, screen shots, text, URLs, or just about anything else.
Here are some real-life applications of QR codes:
Marketing and QR Codes
Cutting-edge promotional experts see QR codes as the new and exciting way to connect real-world advertising with online promotions and take advantage of the current social-networking craze.
Print ads in newspapers and magazines are already starting to incorporate QR codes. Scanning this square quickly links customers to websites with complete information about the product including special deals, tips on how to use the product, or ordering information. Often referred to as paper-based hyperlinks, QR codes make it easier for consumers to visit a site right away.
QR Codes and Couponing
There's nothing more frustrating than getting to the store, picking up a must-have item, and realizing you left the coupon at home. With QR codes, you can scan the code, receive the offer on your smartphone, and have the cashier enter the code or scan the coupon at the register. With this plan, you'll never miss a great deal again!
The potential benefits of QR codes are virtually endless. Although there is no standard size for this scannable information -Japanese companies often put massive QR codes on the front of buildings - most printed codes are about 1.75-square inches. Within this small space, up to 4,296 alphanumeric characters can be stored - slightly more than a page of printed material.
Here are just a few ways QR codes could be used by everyday people in the future:
As the popularity of QR codes increases, expect to see more people with smartphones instead of traditional cell phones. With access to special offers and information through QR codes, even a technophobe will see the value of an upgrade.
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