Simple questions: What are QR codes and why are they useful?

QR codes are everywhere these days: you can find them printed on the packaging of your latest smartphone, you can find them on business cards, included on presentations at conferences, you can even see them painted on buildings. People and companies use them to store and distribute all kinds and information, in a manner that is quickly accessible to anyone with a smartphone. Have you seen how a QR code looks? Did you scan one? Do you know what it does? If you don’t, read this guide to learn everything that you should know about QR codes, including how to create one:

What is a QR code?

The QR code term stands for Quick Response Code and it is a square barcode that was first developed and used in Japan. Like any other barcode, a QR code is nothing mo re than a way to store information in a machine readable optical label. The data contained by a QR code can be anything from simple text, to email addresses, to phone numbers and so on.

QR codes store data using patterns of black dots and white spaces, arranged in a square grid. These patterns can be scanned and translated into human readable information, with the help of an imaging device, like a camera or a scanner, although the most common way to scan QR codes nowadays is to use your smartphone’s camera and a specialized app for reading QR codes.

Why are QR codes useful?

QR codes are easy to generate and use. They are a convenient way to store all kinds of data in a small space. In fact, if the data you want to store in a QR code is made of only alphanumeric characters, a single QR code can hold 4000 characters. Here are some examples of data that can be stored in a QR code:

  • Simple text like a welcome message at a conference
  • Addresses of all kinds
  • Phone numbers
  • E-mail addresses
  • URLs (addresses of websites)
  • Links to apps in app stores like Google Play

The truth is that you can store lots of types of information in a QR code and it all depends only on your imagination. For example, you could also use a QR code to point someone to your Facebook page or you could use it to display a poem you wrote. It’s all up to you.

Where are QR codes displayed?

You can find QR codes in all kinds of locations but some of the most common places where you can see them are:

  • On business cards, containing contact details of all kinds
  • On the packaging of smartphones and other gadgets, containing links to apps, the support service for the gadget that you purchased, the product page with information about that gadget and so on
  • On TV advertisements, billboards, online ads and other types of advertisements
  • On inventory tags in enterprises, containing information like serial numbers, part numbers, hardware specs, inventory dates and so on

In short, you can place a QR code on anything that can be seen and scanned with a smartphone: from a piece of paper, to a piece of cloth, to a TV screen or a building facade. The possibilities are endless.

How do you scan a QR code?

The easiest and the most common method to scan QR codes is to use your smartphone and a QR scanning app. There are countless QR scanning apps in Google’s Play Store and there are also plenty of such tools in Apple’s App Store. Usually, all you have to do is to point your smartphone’s camera to a QR code and the QR scanning app will translate it. If you happen to use a smartphone with Android, Windows 10 Mobile or Windows Phone, we have several guides to help you:

Try them out and scan the QR code below to see the information that we stored in it.

How do you create a QR code?

Before creating your own QR codes, first make sure that you know what kinds of information you want to store and where you will distribute the QR codes. Once you have that cleared, use your favorite web search engine and look for “QR code generators”. There are plenty of such free tools on the internet, and these two are some of the best: QR Stuff and Kaywa QR Code.

Conclusion

QR codes are a neat way of storing data in a small space. As you have seen in this guide, you can store lots of types of data and distribute it to others using all kinds of media. If you have any questions on this subject, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.