What Is A QR Code?


A QR code, abbreviated for “Quick Response” Code is a two-dimensional barcode matrix that was originally used for the automotive industry.  These codes have actually been around for years, first originating in Japan, but now finding its way into the U.S.  Most popularly now, they are used with smartphones for many different purposes and uses.  These little squares are very popular because of their ability to store large amounts of data in one single square.  The modules in the square are arranged in such a way that will allow each one to be unique. 


It was originally created by Toyota to track their vehicles when being manufactured.  Its purpose is to not only store a large amount of data, but also for the QR code reader to decode it at high speed.  It is also being used in the United Kingdom, with them being the 7th largest consumer of QR codes.


QR codes are designed to store a mass quantity of data, but the amount depends on the version, characters and error correction level.  QR codes have many different uses in the world now ranging from marketing, real estate, retail, education, construction and so on.  They have become a staple in the United States.  I feel like everywhere I go now I see them.  The other day I was in the grocery store, I saw one on a bin of apples.  If you scanned it, it gave you the nutritional information on the apple! 


Here are a few ways in which QR codes are being utilized:
  • Transportation: Buses and public transportation are now utilizing QR codes by putting signs up next to the bus stop with QR codes to scan.  When scanned, these QR codes tell you the bus route times, if it’s actually on time, and maps of their routes
  • Education: Teachers and professors are now including QR codes by including them in textbooks.  These QR codes will take them to even more interactive information about the topic at hand including quizzes, games, surveys and other information.
  • Real Estate: Real Estate has also taken a big step in the world of QR codes.  These codes are now places in other areas (not just on a for sale sign out on your front lawn) such as conventions and when scanned, they can give you details about the house for sale such as specs, prices, pictures and more!
  • Retail: QR codes are making a big hit in the retail world.  Everywhere you go there are QR codes for discounts, coupons, product reviews and more!  You see them in grocery stores, shopping malls, department stores and even restaurants!
  • Coupons: Here is something that has more recently developed over the past year…coupon QR codes.  A lot of companies now are utilizing QR codes for coupons.  Scan them and you may receive ten percent off your purchase or a complimentary gift card with your purchase!
  • State and National Parks: The government has also implemented QR codes in state and national parks.  These QR codes, when scanned, will allow you to download trail maps, points of interest and much more!
  • Construction: Beginning with NYC, the mayor has decided to make it mandatory for all building structures already built and being built to have a scannable QR code for the public to utilize.  These QR codes will give residents and passer-by the ability to scan the QR code and obtain information about the structure, who is building it or who built it and much more.
  • Gambling: QR codes are now being utilized in the great realm of gambling.  Scannable QR codes are advertised giving away free lotto tickets and so on.
  • Cigarettes: QR codes are being created for cigarettes as well so that when scanned, a coupon for a certain dollar amount or percentage off will be given on their next cigarette purchase.
  • Tattoos: Yes, now we have seen it all! QR codes as tattoos? Enough said. 
  • Airports: Check into your next flight with your ticket? Nope, now you can check in with your QR code.  Scan the QR code and you are automatically checked in!  Talk about fast service!

These are just a scraping of what QR codes have to offer in the world.  It’s so funny to see a generation that is so dependent on their smartphone.    A long time ago, I remember when I was a kid, if I wanted to call my friends to hang out, I had to go home to use the phone or find a payphone.  Now, it’s just a simple click of a button or a text message and you are already at your friends house quicker than you could pick up the phone and dial the number.  In a world that is ever changing, we must keep up!