What is a QR Code?

QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. A QR Code is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. The QR Code system has become popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. Applications include product and equipment tracking, item and customer identification, time tracking, document management, general marketing, and much more.

A QR code consists of square dots arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device such as a smart phone and processed using error correction until the image can be appropriately interpreted. The required data are then extracted from patterns present in both horizontal and vertical portions of the image.

QR codes have become common in consumer advertising. Typically, a smartphone is used as a QR code scanner, displaying the code and converting it to some useful form such as a standard URL for a website, thereby obviating the need for a user to type it into a web browser.

QR codes are now used over a much wider range of applications, including equipment tracking, entertainment and transport ticketing, product/loyalty marketing and in-store product labeling. It can also be used in storing personal information for use by businesses. Many of these applications target mobile-phone users.

QR codes storing addresses and (URLs) websites may appear in magazines, on signs, on buses, on business cards, or on almost any object about which users might want information. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to a network or open a web page in the telephone’s browser. QR codes also may be linked to a location to track where a code has been scanned. Either the application that scans the QR code retrieves the geo information by using GPS and cell tower triangulation or the URL encoded in the QR code itself is associated with a location.