Sunday, April 17, 2011

Please Scan Here: QR Codes

While reading up on business cards for my Personal Learning Network project I came across the idea of putting QR codes on your business card. I have to confess that as a consequence of not having a smartphone,  I had very little idea as to what a QR code is. All I knew is that you could scan them and you could receive information through them kind of like a barcode. I have researched them much more since I read that initial tip about putting them on your business cards and I must say, I am highly impressed.

If there is anyone else out there who like me doesn't know what a QR code is here is a quick explanation. Basically a QR code, short for Quick Response code, is a square barcode that unlike barcodes can be read from any angle and can contain a whole lot more information. QR codes can encode a variety of information and can direct someone to a website, prompt them to add a vcard (basically a contact information card) to your contacts list, send an email or text message, or simply just display text. QR codes can be scanned by any smartphone or camera phone and read via a QR reader. QR codes are traditionally black and white but people are beginning to create them with colors and designs. One of the best aspects of QR codes and one that makes them much different from barcodes is that they have built in error correction ability. If a code is damaged by dirt or wear and tear it can still be read. That means the QR codes are not only really useful, they are reliable too.

Its probable that even if you have no idea what a QR code is, you have probably seen them before be it in magazines or advertisements. It has great potential for advertisers but I think it has even greater potential as a way for entertainment and lifestyle companies to connect with the public. I even found a recent example of this in Disney and their Star Wars themed attraction Star Tours. Star tours has been undergoing an upgrade for the first time in its history that will change the whole ride and is set to reopen at the end of May. Not surprisingly there is a huge amount of anticipation from both Disney Parks fans as well as the massive and rabid Star Wars fan base. My friend Paul Chadkin, who I have previously blogged about, recently retweeted a picture of a poster about Star Tours 2 which included a QR code. The poster, as you can see in the link, said that the QR code would unlock details about the attraction. The QR code then took you to a special website where you could explore the new aspects of the ride.

To me this is an absolutely excellent example of how QR codes can be used. I am sure there are more examples of QR codes being used in entertainment, but I couldn't think of any. Do you know of any entertainment or lifestyle companies who have used QR codes? If so, please share them with me!

Unfortunately while QR codes are widely used in countries like Japan and South Korea, they have been slow to take off in the west. I hope that they become more widely used because I think they have amazing potential.


  1. This is so cool! I remember you showing me your business card in class, and I admit, this is really professional. I don't have a smartphone either, so I'm not sure how much use I would get out of this, HOWEVER, those who I give my card too will probably be able to use it, so I'll most likely put one on there, just in case.

  2. 2. I already knew about QR codes, but I didn’t realize their potential. I think that they are a great idea for business cards! This is because it can allow you to upload a new contact into your phone before you have the chance to lose the business card. I also think how Disney is using them to disclose information on the remodeling of Star Tours 2 is a great way to utilize this technology. However, I think that by only using a QR code, then fans without smartphones will be unable to learn about the renovations (which they probably what to know about). Recently, I noticed a QR code on the tag of a pineapple that I bought. I tried to scan the code but the scanner on my phone wasn’t able to read it, I really wish I knew what that code would link to.

  3. I really wish your scanner had worked on the pineapple too! I can't imagine what that would link to. Maybe some info about where it was grown or something. Could have been very cool thats for sure.

  4. I did a project on QR codes last semester and became obsessed with them. Once you know what they are, you will start to notice them everywhere. Even though their spread west has been slow it's definitely happening. I briefly had a QR code on my resume that linked to my Linkedin page (whoa social media overload) so that I could offer an expanded version of my resume. I took it off because I don't utilize Linkedin as much as I thought I would.