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Cool Tool: QR Codes
Jan 24, 2011 // Tom Miller
This post is in praise of a simple tool: the QR Code. QR codes are graphics that represent text strings, typically website URL's. Using their cameras and QR scanning software, smart phone users can scan QR codes to launch specific website URL's in their mobile browser.
Although the "QR" code is one type of two dimensional code (other common ones: Aztec Code, MaxiCode) the term "QR Code" has been extended to encompass any two dimensional code that is readable by scanner software on mobile devices. The QR Code standard is a set standard and license-free, so the platforms for both consumption and generation are interchangeable.
So what's to like about QR codes?
QR codes are easy to consume. All the major mobile platforms either support the QR Code standard natively or have free QR scanning applications readily available. To consume a QR code, a smart phone user needs to simply "take a picture" of it with their phone.
QR codes are easy to create. Since the QR Code is based on a set standard, there are a number of web services that will produce them based on URL input. I've been using Kaywa's generator, but URL shorteners, such as goo.gl and bit.ly now also generate them along with their shortened URL's.
QR codes are easy to track. Much like a shortened URL or a vanity URL, there is opportunity to tag incoming URL's to allow tracking of traffic generated by QR code scans. This is a key practice when attempting to determine use of and return from QR code usage.
Where are they useful? With the explosion in advanced smartphone usage, there is increasing opportunity to embed these codes in a wide variety of applications. I have personally seen QR codes used in billboards, magazine advertisements, bus shelters, bus wraps, business cards, conference badges, and, oddly enough, men's rooms.
So why aren't they everywhere? The sad truth is that they aren't everywhere. They are still so rare to see "in the wild" that I am still surprised to see them, even in situations with obvious utility.
What are some other uses? I'd like to see QR codes everywhere where a web resource could be useful. I'd like one on my appliances or in my car that can point me to product information. I'd like one at Starbucks and Chipotle that would allow me to order and pay while standing in line. I'd like to see them on TV that would allow me to connect with shows and their advertisers in addition to vanity URL's. The potential applications are legion.blog comments powered by Disqus