What are QR Codes?

QR Code to PJP Linked In profile page

QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) are starting to appear in magazines, shopfronts and other locations. When scanned with a QR Reader (a small software application on a smartphone) they can start an action such as automatically taking you to a web page on your browser. QR Codes can also carry text information for contact details, geo location codes, email addresses and more.

The image to the right is a QR Code, and if scanned with a reader,  will automatically take you to Paul's public Linked in profile page in your web browser. At Tech-Trends we have experimented with the  QR Reader for iPhone by TapMedia Ltd and found it to be a functional and easy to use reader and creator of simple QR Codes.

One very easy way to generate QR Codes of URLs is to use the free Google url shortener service goo.gl. Paste the url into the box and create the short url. Paste into your browser address bar and append .qr to the end. The page at this address will be a QR code of the original url. Save the image and scan the result into a QR reader.

A list of actions possible with QR Codes is maintained by XZING.  One can imagine using QR Codes for games such as treasure hunts, museum information boards as well as media campaigns, as at present. However, there are clearly issues with:

  • Accessibility through the need have suitable reader available to the user;
  • Technical compatibility of the device used;
  • Longevity of the action. If there are many copies of the QR code in circulation and the action is to direct the reader to a URL, how long will the URL be valid?
  • Potential to direct the user to webpages with malware;
  • Potential to incur cost to the user through instigating non-free actions.

Overall QR Codes offer the potential for many imaginative uses way beyond the simple labelling applications of their origin.

A Simple QR Code generator

This simple QR Code generator uses the Google Infographics API.

Type text or paste an URL fewer than 50 characters into the text box below. Select submit and a QR Code image will be loaded into your browser. You will need to read it with a suitable reader to test the output.