Recently I started to see QR codes become more common. In case you wonder what a QR code is: Wikipedia says “A QR code (short for Quick Response) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.”
QR & HCCB
QR code’s aren’t new, they were invented in 1994 by Denso-Wave a Toyota subsidiary. QR codes aren’t the only two-dimensional codes around. Even Microsoft came up with an implementation called High Capacity Color Barcode (HCCB) also known as Microsoft Tag.
The reason QR codes and their siblings are becoming more visible in the world around us is quite simple: today’s camera-equipped smartphones run apps that decode the QR’s and HCCB’s. QR codes are ideal to communicate a (complicated) URL, aka web address. By just pointing your smartphone to the code and scanning it you’ll be taken to a website or YouTube movie for that matter. That is extremely convenient and prevents you from making mistakes by typing over a web address.
Where to spot a QR
QR codes are appearing in magazines, newspapers, on billboards, shopping windows, on real estate for sale, in the local Home Depot and even on T-shirts.
Obviously in magazines, newspapers, and other publications the QR code can take you to a website with additional or more recent information on the subject that you found in the print publication. In the local Home Depot, the code points to a YouTube movie – an instructional video about the DIY-job at hand. Home Depot has an interest in showing you that the task isn’t that difficult, you can do it, which is a great boost of your confidence.
The shopping windows tag has more information on business hours, and special promotions while the billboard QR code is an extension of the message advertised. A real estate agent could put up a huge QR code so that even while driving by in a car you can point and shoot at the code and get more information on the property for sale or too let. While waiting at a bus stop the QR code in the billboard could be hard to resist.
Information & communication
QR codes are all about disclosing information. I would expect to see many more applications for the codes especially in professional and educational publications. Think about how you seamlessly can link the world of offline print to the always up-to-date dynamic interactive online world. Whether you’ll supply supplements to be downloaded, YouTube movies, simulations or supporting information, point to a new app to be downloaded, the possibilities are endless. And now that the iPad and other tables are supplied with camera’s this even opens up more possibilities.
I invite you to get started with QR codes or Microsoft Tags by creating a tag, its easy. But more importantly I want you to start thinking how you can apply these codes to communicate with your customers and prospects.