What are QR codes?

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by Meredith Yeomans

azfamily.com

Posted on April 20, 2011 at 5:59 PM

PHOENIX - They’re starting to pop up everywhere: Business cards, magazines, movie posters.

They are QR codes -- those funky white and black boxes packed with tiny dots.

Odds are you thought the same thing Allan Knowles did when he first saw them.

“The original thought, to be honest, was "What the heck are these things?” he said.

These things are the hottest new trend in marketing and social media.

“Is a lot like a bar code except they’re squares and you can store information in the black and white dots,” Charles Jolley with Strobe Inc. explained. “So you can keep a lot of different things in there, telephone numbers, URLs, links to web sites, addresses, even photographs, any kind of text you want.”

You can’t see the information until you scan the box with your smart phone’s camera.

Then, with a special scanning app, all kinds of information will come across your screen. 

“Instead of having a web site that’s hard to type in or a phone number you have to remember to write down, with a QR code you can just take your phone, you can scan the QR code and it can get that info straight into your phone without you having to type it,” Jolley said. “So, it’s faster, it’s easier.”

And with more than half of America now using smart phones, it’s an advertiser’s dream.

“They’re mostly used for marketing,” Jolley explained. “You’ll see them on cafes.  You’ll see them
at the movies.  You’ll see them in different places where people want you to be able to get access to. More information so you can find out the menu for the restaurant that you’re attending, a preview for the movie that you’re at.”

Allan, who is a real estate attorney, has even started seeing them on real estate signs.

“So when a couple is out looking at houses and they come across a property they like, they can just walk up to that property, wave their cell phone in front of the QR code on the real estate for sale sign and call up instantly all the data about that property,” Knowles said.

And here’s the cool part.

It’s not something only big businesses can use.

Anyone can create a QR code for free!

“Just go to Google. Search for a QR code maker. You can find one. You can put in any kind of information. And it will generate a QR code for you,” Jolley said. “It’s really, really easy.”

You can print out stickers with the code, or business cards, or even hats and t-shirts if you want. 

They’re popping up on products everywhere, just waiting for consumers like Allan.

“I’m starting to scan them more and more,” he said.

The U.S. is actually way behind on this technology.

QR or quick response codes were created in Japan in 1994 and in that country, they're even being used in cemeteries to give information about people who have passed.

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