View Full Version : Understanding Quick Response(QR) codes

09-02-2013, 03:31 PM
QR codes

You might have seen small stamp size square images somewhat like the one in the attachment , in News paper and magazine advertisements.
In some advertisements, you might see a small note near the figure that will advise you to scan the image for details (if you have not noticed, take a National Newspaper and see the Advt. page- say Cinemas. You will find these squares ). Have you ever wondered, what they intend to convey? These images are called QR codes or Quick Response codes and convey a lot of information, which become available when scanned.
Now that you have noticed a QR code and are interested in exploring further, you need a scanner. Most of the present day smart phones like iphone, Blackberry, Samsung, Nokia etc. come with pre loaded scanner applications. You may check the availability of scanner in the available apps. in the phone.
If the mobile does not have a scanner, you may have to download the QR scanner application, which is mostly free, from the web/apple store or from Google play for android phones, to your phone. The application provider indicates compatibility of the software, with the smartphone model selected. Once this app. is installed you are ready to scan the QR code
1. Click on the icon to open the application on your smart phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile etc.). For example, if you have installed “Quickmark” software app., click on the Quickmark icon.
2. Place your phone’s camera over the QR code so it fits on your screen
3. When the image is clear for scanning, the camera captures it.
4. Your smart phone will ‘decode’ the barcode and the content will be displayed on the screen.
5. The phone also stores the images decoded and enables these web sites to be accessed, without the need for typing any url.

What are QR codes and how they are used

We are all familiar with bar codes appearing in packaged commodities, which are scanned by the scanners, in the retail stores, before billing. These are uni- dimensional codes and their numbers are also indicated in numerals.
Bar codes contain systematically arranged data in bars of varying widths and spacing as parallel lines. Bar codes have become so universal that anywhere in the world you will find similar bar codes in product packaging. The Universal Product Code (UPC code) is a common standard, which has been in vogue for some decades for packaging of commodities. The other hugely popular bar code is the ISBN code for classifying books.
The most commonly used bar code is EAN13, which supersedes the earlier UPC is a 13 digit code. You will find this code in most packaged articles. The first 3 digits identify the member nation e.g, India is identified by 890. (Check any packaged product purchased from retail stores and you will find the 13 digit code, starting with 890). The last digit is a check code, to ensure the correctness of the code. The rest of the code represent the manufacturer’s name and product details including packing.

The limitation of the simple bar code is that it can only accommodate less than 20 digits. More data inclusion is possible only by increasing the width of the bars but the code becomes unwieldy for scanning. This has led to the development of QR codes.

QR (Quick Response) Code

A QR code is a square bar code that makes getting URLs, location coordinates, text or contact information onto a phone quickly. With a bar code scanner application installed in your mobile phone, you just need to point your phone's camera at the code to read its contents to scan the image. The QR codes are also known as 2D bar codes or matrix codes.
The QR code was invented in Japan by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994 to track vehicles during manufacture. It was designed to allow high-speed component scanning. It has since become one of the most popular types of two-dimensional bar codes. Though Denso Waves owns the patent rights for QR codes they have allowed free usage of the same by others and by Standards Organizations. An ISO (International Standards Organization) code has been evolved for QR codes, based on Denso. (ISO-1804-2006)

A typical QR code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square grid on a white background. The size of the square is normally around 1inch.
Bigger images are difficult to scan whereas very small images lose their sharpness, when printed. QR code is readable from any direction through position detection characters located in 3 corners. (see attachment)

The advantages of the QR code are: versatility, high storage capacity, facility to act as a link to other sources. QR codes can be printed on any material. When people scan these codes, they instantly see the online content, say an url, a product video, a text message or a contact no. You can instantaneously connect to a web address, download MP3, dial a telephone number, or prompt your email client with a sender address.
Though the QR codes are in use for the last many years, their growth was limited due to the high cost of scanners required for scanning. With the advent of mobile phones with scanners, QR codes have suddenly become very popular, in India and elsewhere, with more and more advertisers using these tools. A QR code can store about 7000 characters as against less than 20 by a bar code.
Some of the places where you will see these codes are advertisements in Newspapers, magazines, billboards, packaged commodities, medicine strips, telephone bills, tickets etc.etc. Recently these codes are also appearing in public places and hoardings. In UK, the Regulatory Authorities have issued guidelines for printing QR codes printed on medicine packages, as patient support information, to avoid misuse of the codes by including sales promotion materials. Some International Airlines use QR codes as electronic boarding cards.
The strength of the QR code lies in the software used for designing the code and for reading it. Once the smartphone's camera processes the code's image, the software goes to work analyzing the image. After the software has digitally "reconstructed" the QR Code, it examines the jumble of black and white squares in the QR Code's data section and outputs the data contained within.
To create one’s own QR code one can use one of the several QR bar code generators available online. They let you adjust everything from the format you want to use to the size of the code. You can send coded text messages to your friends using QR codes. You can even show some ingenuity and make a QR code for your visiting card.

QR codes in Marketing

QR codes have become very popular in marketing of the products. For, if the link to purchase a product is shown on an advertisement hoarding as QR code, the chances of converting the advertisement into a sale is higher. However, being an all-new technology, there is a learning curve involved. Hence, building awareness on QR codes is important before this can really catch on. Unlike in Japan where millions of people are already accustomed to using QR Codes, most cell phone users in India are still oblivious to smart phones or QR Codes. That remains to be a major stumbling block for the advancement of QR Code usage here.

A recent development in up gradation of QR scanning is the Google Goggles, an application which can not only read the bar codes but do much more. Google Goggles is a downloadable image recognition application created by Google. It is used for searches based on pictures taken by mobile smartphones. For example, taking a picture of a famous landmark would search for information about it, or taking a picture of a product's barcode will search for information on the product. Just try the video in Google Goggles web site. It is fascinating; and you will like it.

Further developments are taking place in QR codes and as reported in Newspapers, earlier this month, recent research in University of South Dakota will pave the way for encoding invisible QR codes on bank notes to prevent counterfeit notes being made.
Using your mobile phone as scanner you can decode the attached QR codes, which will enable you to understand the QR codes.

Note : The above article is based on information available in the internet particularly from Denso Waves site.(January 2013)