Explanation of the QR Code
Miles Hall writes frequently about the business world. He is interested primarily in writing about selling businesses.
Today is a digital society, and businesses are turning to social networks, web banners, and online media to centralize their marketing in front of where their audience looms – the internet. With all the competitive marketing clutter, companies now attempt to combine efforts of real world and virtual campaigns, and leading the way in this effort is the new symbol of tangible to virtual connective tissue: the QR Code.
You may have seen the QR code on anything from soda cups to billboards. In fact they’re everywhere: Magazine ads, business cards, gas stations, airline tickets and bus passes, and have even replaced the traditional UPC/bar codes in a growing number of retail stores. Where competition is increasingly fierce for genuine ad space, the QR Code has become a reasonable means to incorporate further information to the consumer while serving as an invitation for them to find out more about a product using their handheld devices.
In the beginning
The QR Code was developed in 1994 by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Corp. Initially conceived for tracking vehicle components during the manufacturing process, the code quickly was adapted for other applications. As cell phones developed into mobile computers, marketing firms began to take advantage of the QR Code in streamlining their conversion funnel, or the process in which consumers see an ad, follow the information to the company website, and complete a purchase. Where once published advertisements would include a unique URL near the bottom of the page, QR Codes suddenly allowed consumers to immediately scan the ad and receive supplementary information on the spot, simply by taking a snapshot of the code with their phone.
How it works
As it is quickly readable from a mere photograph or scanned image, QR Code literally stands for “Quick Response” code. Initially needing a programmed sensor to decode the stored information, recent developments in the code and in modern mobile devices allow it to be utilized by downloadable software, such as this one (http://qrcode.kaywa.com/). The program first recognizes three large squares in the corners of the image, and translates the code to the proper size by orienting them with a smaller, fourth square in the bottom right. It then interprets the remaining black squares, or modules, into the information encoded by the company.
QR Codes are also capable of storing data. Each module can contain up to 255 code words, which are offset by other modules containing error correcting codes to ensure that, despite the angle or even damage to the physical surface of the code, it can be read and interpreted correctly. This ability makes QR Codes ideal for the purposes of tracking products and packages, storing temporary data, and labeling items with a depth of information.
Despite the explosion in popularity due to the many useful applications of the QR Code, experts are beginning to tout its risks, most of which are privacy concerns. For example, as the QR Code itself is rather anonymous in presentation, consumers can be unwittingly taken to malicious sites in which they would have never explored had it been given a manual address. There have also been reported cases of malicious packets being downloaded in the background of an otherwise normal looking site. As the QR Code contains data, it is also now possible to simply execute a virus or program just from scanning the image, enabling attackers to have immediate access to all of an unsuspecting user’s permissions and private information.
Why you should incorporate them into your business
Despite patents owned by Denso Wave, QR Codes are free of license, and in 2011 over 14 million Americans used them. Advancements in the code have made them capable of containing useful information in a variety of sizes, and can even be presented aesthetically to match the image of your brand while remaining fully functional. They also draw consumer attention. More likely than not, a large QR Code without explanation on a giant board will pique the curiosity of the consumer enough to scan it, if for no other reason than to discover what is being advertised. Given the ease of access for both consumers and businesses to connect using QR Codes, they are a valuable commodity that should be incorporated into every business model.