Jul 21 2010
By Jeff Wilson, APR (@wilson0507)
For a while now, I’ve been reading about Quick Response or QR codes and have been intrigued by the technology. What exactly are QR codes and what do they do?
The technology isn’t new. QR codes were first developed in 1994 by Japanese company Denso Wave and are stylized barcodes that can be encrypted with information accessible by iPhones, Droids and other smart phones with the properly installed QR code readers, many of which can be downloaded for free. Like a lot of technological advances, QR codes are widely used in Japan and other parts of Asia, but have yet to gain widespread usage in the United States.
On his blog, Mark Sprague describes QR codes as paper-based hyperlinks. A smartphone user simply takes a picture of a QR code and gets directed automatically to a mobile site. For example, some business cards are being enhanced with QR codes. When someone hands you a card with a QR code, all you need to do is scan it with your smart phone and the person’s contact information is transferred to your phone automatically. On a much broader scale, Sprague points out an example of how McDonald’s uses QR codes on its packaging in Japan so consumers can access nutritional information and review the amount of calories, fat and carbohydrates in their meals.
QR codes also can be used electronically. You can attach a QR code to a Tweet or displayed on a web page to transfer information directly to the cell phone. The image above is a QR code, which links to Wikipedia’s website. Just last week, I received an online invitation for a networking event, which included a QR code. When I scanned the code with my iPhone, the code sent me to a link with pertinent information about the event, along with directions of how to get there.
While I’ve dabbled around with QR codes online, I hadn’t really experienced them in the “real world” until last week, and it happened at my mechanic’s garage of all places. While I was sitting there waiting for my car, I noticed a point-of-purchase display for a new tire by Michelin. I noticed that down in the bottom, right corner was a QR code. I scanned it and was directed to a microsite with information about the tire, photos of it and videos of it in use. While I didn’t get the tires, I did get excited thinking about ways brands and businesses could use QR codes.
With the widespread use of iPhones and other smart phones, are U.S. brands and businesses finally ready to embrace QR codes in a big way?
Consider the possibilities. I like to cook. Each week, I scour through a number of cookbooks, looking for recipes to try. This week was a tasty spinach casserole. Image if I went to the grocery store where there was a sale on spinach along with a display featuring a QR code that took me to a mobile site with dozens of spinach recipes, videos of how to prepare them and coupons for 10 percent off spinach.
Here are a few other examples of how companies can use QR codes, including some tips from Mashable:
The possibilities are endless. What other ways can brands and businesses use QR codes?