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QR Codes: What Are They and Why Should I Care?

By Edited Jun 21, 2015 2 3

Their History

We've all

Soft Drink
 seen them from time to time.  Perhaps you didn't pay any attention to them.  Perhaps you wondered what they meant.  I am referring to QR codes.  QR codes are those square boxes full of pixels arranged in an odd pattern.  You might see them on the side of a soft drink cup from your local fast food restaurant, or maybe on a billboard as you are driving down the road.  Perhaps you wondered what they are.  This article intends to shed some light on those awesome little codes.

Ever since I was a kid, I have loved secret codes.  I even sent in box tops to get one of those fancy decoder rings that were so popular for so long.  There is something about a code that is irresistible.  When you see a code, you want to crack it.  Well, most of us want to crack it.  

Enter QR codes.  "QR" stands for Quick Read. They are the secret code for techies.  The biggest secret is that they are not so secret.  They have been around for a while, but are only growing in popularity since the rise of  the smart phone.  Now, almost anyone can crack these codes wherever they are found.  Applications for scanning these special codes can be found in the application store for either Apple or Android phones.  There are dozens of websites that offer the ability to create codes for free as well as many Apps that both read and allow the creation of QR codes.  A quick search of the internet should produce plenty of websites to choose from.

QR codes have been around for almost 20 years.  They were first invented in 1994[7405] by a company called Denso Wave, which was a subsidiary of Toyota.  Their history and the technical explanation of how they work can be easily researched on Wikipedia[7404] and other information sites.  QR codes are not licensed and can be created and used free of charge by anyone who wishes to do so.  

Their Uses

QR codes are information stations.  They can be used to transfer various types of information and serve a multitude of purposes.  Various types of information is stored in the computer generated code and is retrieved when someone with a QR reader scans the code.  The best part is that when people see them, they naturally want to know what they mean.  Imagine putting your phone number in a QR code.  Do you want to get more traffic to your website or your InfoBarrel articles?  Why not put the website address in a QR code as in the example to the left.  Go ahead scan it with your tablet or smart phone.  I'll wait.  Isn't that awesome?



A Special Message


Suppose you had a message you wanted people to read, but were looking for an unusual method of getting their attention.  You could post flyers with nothing but your QR code and the words "Special Message Just For You".   If I had a smart phone or tablet and could scan QR codes I know I would be tempted to find out what it said.  Try out the one to the right.  



A Photograph


If you had a photograph you wanted to display, but wanted to use a QR code, you could embed the QR code with the Url of your photo stored somewhere on the internet.  Again, it is a great way to have fun and be creative with the sharing of information.  Just for kicks, why not scan the code to the left and take a look at this curvaceous beauty.



All of these codes were made using free services found on the internet.  The process is quick and you can download your QR code right to your computer as a jpg.  Some sites also give you the ability to generate html code to embed the code directly into your website or blog.  

Using Your Imagination

These are just some of the many uses for QR codes.  Here again is a list of some of the way you could put them to use.

  • Website addresses
  • Special Messages
  • SMS text messages
  • vCard sharing
  • Phone numbers
  • YouTube video messages


How you choose to use them is up to you.  Keep in mind that they are not private.  Anyone with a code reader can get access to the information.  However, as an article writer and website owner, this is exactly what I want to happen.  I enjoy using people's curiosity to drive them to the content I want them to see.  What will you use them for?

A Quick Work About QR readers

All QR readers are not created equal.  It is a good idea to search around and try out a few different ones before settling down.  Some QR reader applications are free and some cost a few dollars.  I would definitely recommend going with the free versions first.  

Also keep in mind that some programs will not open web addresses right away.  In one application I tried, it brought up a list of options for the specific address.  The application showed me the entire Url and asked if I wanted to open it.  I suppose this is a good safety feature, but I prefer just having the software go the web address automatically.  However, if I had children, I would probably go for the safer version.

Whichever way you decide, the important thing is to have fun.  Remember, QR codes are free to create and free to use.  What is not to like about that?



Mar 15, 2013 4:46am
qr codes are really fascinating technology. i see them used in chat programs (for more easily adding your friends to your chat list)
Mar 15, 2013 4:50am
There are literally hundreds of uses, and they are so much fun!
Mar 17, 2013 8:33am
Good article. I have seen these codes at Clickbank.com. I always wondered what they were.
Thanks for the explanation. It's good to always read because ignorance is evil.
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  1. "QR Code." Wikipedia. 13/03/2013 <Web >
  2. "The History of QR Codes." QR Codes in Marketing. 13/03/2013 <Web >

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