What is a QR code?

Have you seen a lot of these lately?

They’re everywhere!  I had seen plenty and knew they contained information but had never actually scanned one until this evening.

To find out what’s behind the picture all you need is a smart phone and a QR scanning app.

So I downloaded QR Reader for iPhone (a free app) from the App Store and went in search of QR codes. You simply start the reader app and hold your phone camera over the QR picture. I found them a bit fiddly at times to scan, and holding the phone landscape instead of portrait over the code seemed to work better. Given I’m a novice it’s most likely me not the app whose at fault, and I would imagine scanning from paper is easier than scanning a computer screen.

So once you scan one of these, what happens?

Well, first the app decodes what you’ve scanned and then shows you the result. You might see some text, get a picture, get a coupon/discount voucher, someones contact details, be redirected to a web page, a twitter profile, a geographical location, “like” a facebook page or watch a video – to name but a few examples.

They can be put anywhere really. On massive billboards, sides of cars, on people (tattoos ?!?, clothes, nails), on business cards, in newspapers, in restaurants, on websites – the possibilities only constrained by imagination and potential for embarrassment.

They could be so much more effective than flyers when you think about it. Once you have the information on your phone, you’ll have it to hand whenever you think you need whatever the code creator was selling.

QR reader for iPhone also allows you to generate your own QR codes. If you try my sample above you will be redirected to my brother’s brilliant crowdsourced music video website www.45sound.com (family plug!).

QR stands for Quick Read. These codes have been in popular use for really only the last 2 years but have been around since 1994.  They were invented in Japan (surprise!) by Toyota (surprise!) and were used to track car parts on conveyor belts. Eighteen years later it’s a global phenomenon.

If you believe some of the stats elsewhere on the web, in June 2011 14 million QR codes were scanned in the US, 60% of the scanners were male, most between 18 and 55, most earned over $100k p.a. and almost 50% of the items scanned were discount coupons!

Now that I’m getting the hang of it, I’m off to scan myself a few freebies…

Happy scanning!

What do you think – fad or here to stay? Have you scanned any good QR codes recently?


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Author: Sue @ Oysterfruit

Owner at Oysterfruit.com.au.

4 thoughts on “What is a QR code?”

  1. Thanks Rachel – I’m still figuring out topics and formats. Love your blog! Congratulations on your nomination for the Redcliffe Business Achievers award – I’ve voted for you – best of luck!!

    Sue x

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