What Are QR Codes and How Do They Work?
A QR code, which stands for Quick Response code, is the trademark of a specific type of two-dimensional bar code that was originally developed for the Japanese automotive industry. QR codes are sometimes called matrix bar codes. These new codes look a bit like a black and white puzzle.
QR codes are considered two-dimensional, because they can store information in two directions. Whereas a normal one-dimensional bar code can only hold about 20 characters of information horizontally, QR codes can store information both horizontally and vertically.
Two-dimensional storage greatly increases the amount of information QR codes can hold. Instead of 20 characters, a QR code can hold more than 4,000 characters of text and over 7,000 digits of binary data.
To read a QR code, you need a scanner. QR codes contain black modules (what we see as black, square dots) arranged in a pattern on a square grid against a white background. These modules contain customized data, along with a finder pattern and an alignment pattern that make them easy to read by scanning devices.
Scanning devices also use Reed-Solomon error correction technology to process QR codes. This allows QR codes to be read even when they are worn or distorted. Once processed and interpreted, the customized data can be extracted from the patterns found in the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the QR code image.
They got their start helping Japanese auto manufacturers keep track of thousands of complex automotive parts. Today, though, QR codes are increasingly being used in marketing and advertising. For example, a QR code on a movie advertisement can take you directly online to a trailer for the new movie.
Likewise, QR codes on any type of product can take potential consumers directly to the Internet for a wide variety of content intended to influence someone to purchase the product.
Moreover, scanning a QR code allows a company to gather data about the person who scanned it, including what type of device it was scanned with, where it was scanned, and the time of day it was scanned. This type of data can help marketers to focus their use of advertisements to make them more effective.