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What’s this?

October 19, 2009

See this code?

So what is it? It is a QR Code. Something that you are going to see more as time goes on. You can use your camera and web enabled mobile phone to scan that code and jump to a web site. This two-dimensional barcode was created in 1994 by Denso-Wave from Japan. “QR” stands for “Quick Response.”

The first place that I saw this code was for the movie “9.” They used this type of code as the poster at the theater. It is very slick. Right now, it isn’t widely used in the United States, but I’m sure it will be. It is used pretty heavily in Japan. I’m even guessing that it will be built right into future version of the phones. For now you have to download the software. There are a few readers out there, but so far, my favorite is i-nigma Reader by 3GVision.

So, why would I want to put this code on my Web site? Well, for one thing you could use it as a promotional tool. Particularly for tech savvy users. You can use it on printed items that will link back to a special page on your Web site. It could be on T-shirts, mugs, other Web sites, just about anything.

You can create your own codes on the i-nigma site, http://www.i-nigma.com/CreateBarcodes.html. The best part—it is free.

There are other options out there too. Microsoft has a color bar code system called Tag. Although, Tag is limited to using the Microsoft TagReader. I like the previous option because you can try different applications to see what works well for your mobile device. The advantage to Tag is the ability to customize the image more. You can incorporate images into it. However, I find the Tag system to be clunkier to work with than the QR Code options. Tag is still in beta, so it is a little buggy at the moment. Microsoft also has not announced if Tag will continue to be free, or if you will have to pay a fee for it down the line.

A QR Code isn’t limited to URLs. It can be any text. Here is a simple example of that.

Sample QR Coded Text

Another site that let’s you create these codes is QuickMark by SimpleAct Inc. They also have their own software that you can install on your phone. The “lite” version for the iPhone is free. The full version is $0.99 at the time of this blog. I’m not certain about the cost for other phones.

There are many things these codes can contain, url, vCard, text, geographical coordinates and more.

A very similar technology to QR Codes is Data Matrix. It is a standard for NASA, electronics, postal, and other types of markings. The i-nigma site has a nice explanation of the barcodes.

Sources:

3GVision http://www.i-nigma.com/hp.html

QuickMark http://www.quickmark.cn/En/basic/index.asp

Microsoft Tag http://tag.microsoft.com/

Wikipedia – QR Code http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code

So, where do those two codes that I posted here go? Well, you are going to have to use a QR Code reader to find out. Have fun.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2009 4:03 pm

    I wonder how long before someone figures out how to use this as a spam/virus delivery tool.

  2. October 26, 2009 8:13 am

    It could happen, but it really isn’t any different than following a link. Any link on a web page can take you to a virus. Plus it is always going to be aimed at a much smaller audience than you would get with regular links.

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