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What are QR Codes?

Though they’ve been around for nearly 20 years, QR codes are still a fairly new innovation for the consumer world. Originally invented in 1994 by a Japanese automobile company to be used to store data to be used within the company, they are beginning to become a more common sight for many people, much like the barcodes we find on most every product you’ll find in stores.

While barcodes are usually attached to products to store data relating to the product’s price and general information, and to be read by a store’s computer (usually during check out), QR codes are usually attached to items (though they can be found just about anywhere, including online) for consumers to scan using their own personal devices such as smart phones. There are also barcode scanners designed specifically for scanning QR codes. The biggest difference between these and conventional barcodes is that they can store significantly more data.

The design scheme is also much like barcodes. They’re black, square shaped grids on white backgrounds that are filled in with smaller black squares. When scanned by one of the devices mentioned, it transfers data to your device.

QR codes are capable of storing a very wide variety of data. When used industrially, they’re generally used to help track and identify products. For consumer use, however, they are used for a much different purpose. Many companies use them as a means of advertising. When scanned, your device will automatically open a URL that will usually send you directly to the company’s site, or sometimes automatically start a download of a sample of their product. For example, a QR code found on a CD may provide a link to a free song sample to be downloaded.
In addition to advertising, businesses and other services (such as telephone directories you would normally receive in the mail) have QR codes that can be scanned to automatically take you to the online-counterpart of the business or service. Using the telephone directory example, this can be extremely convenient, as you can simply scan the code, find the telephone number you are looking for, and then use the online service to automatically dial the number on your phone.

These unique codes are also starting to be seen a lot more online. They can be found on many company’s websites and advertising emails.

They can also be used to store data such as contact information. You can quickly scan a QR code with your phone and it will automatically update your contact list with someone else’s name, telephone number, mailing address, and other general contact information.

While these innovative codes are still fairly new to most people, they’re certainly an up and coming invention which are starting to be used more and more each year. In just the month of June 2011, 14 million of these codes were scanned using mobile devices. With more people relying on new-age devices (especially smart phones) there is little reason to believe that QR codes will ever fall out of style. Today’s world is all about convenience and that’s exactly what these provide to so many people.



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