You have probably noticed these little white squares with black patterns on them appearing on bus kiosk ads, in magazines, and even on billboards. And there’s a good chance that you don’t know what they are and if you are supposed to do something with them. You may have even wondered if they are secret communication devices designed just for nerds and geeks.
They are QR Codes, and I’m going to tell you:
• What they are
• Why they are there
• What you can do with them
What is a QR Code?
The QR code is a pattern that can be read by a scanner, just the same way a bar code is read in the supermarket. QR is short for “Quick Response” and they were invented in Japan in 1994. QR Codes have been ubiquitous in Japan for years, and in Europe for a long time. The U.S. has been very slow to adopt them, mostly because of idiosyncrasies the cell phone technology here.
Why are QR Codes Appearing Everywhere?
As of the end of 2010, there were 302,859,67 wireless subscriptions in the U.S. (data from CTIA Wireless Assoc.). This astoundingly massive usage of wireless technology is enabling organizations of all kinds to connect with people in new and very innovative ways. This is what’s cool about QR Codes: the camera on your Smartphone can read them! Which means that businesses and institutions can use them to deliver more information to you, the consumer, than is possible in an ad.
When scanned, the code will make something happen on your phone, such as:
• A website may open in your browser
• You may get a text
• A photo may appear
• A video may appear
Why would you want to scan a QR Code?
Let’s say you’re standing at a bus stop in your neighborhood. You notice that there is an ad on the shelter for a nearby restaurant that you’ve wondered about. Scan the QR code on the ad, and your phone will take you to a mini website designed specifically for your phone (meaning the images fit perfectly on your screen). You can look at the restaurant’s menu, see images of the interior, and very often, find a special coupon that when shown at the restaurant, will give you a discount or something special, like a free glass of wine.
Local businesses and large brands are using QR Codes for all kinds of things. From allowing you to access a recipes when purchasing a packaged good in the supermarket, to enabling you to view a movie preview by scanning a code on a movie poster, QR Codes give you a richer experience to help you make buying decisions.
Can any phone scan a QR Code?
Only Smartphones or camera phones equipped with a QR “reader” application can scan the image of the QR code. Check this list to see if your phone is QR capable, and determine which application to use.
How do you use them?
Once you’ve determined that you have a QR reader on your phone, you will use your phone’s camera to scan the code. Again, you need a reader application to do this. Depending on what information is stored on the QR code, a browser window may open; you may receive a text or a download. You should receive the content in less than a minute.
If you have a business
QR codes can be a great tool for business. The important thing to remember is to clearly explain to the user what is going to happen when they scan your code and what the benefits will be to them to take that action.
Here are some examples of uses of QR codes:
To find out what application you need for your Smartphone or camera phone, click here: http://www.qrstuff.com/qr_phone_software.html
Do you have any great ideas for using QR codes? Comment below:
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