What are they, what are they used for and how do they work?

QR codes are everywhere these days as a convenient way to find them Store and distribute information, quickly accessible to everyone and with devices as widely used as a smartphone.

With these 2D codes (bidis) is huge; in consumption, in companies and in all industries. You can find them printed on the packaging of a product; on a business card; at the table in a restaurant; in a supermarket; in a museum; in the field of cryptocurrencies; in advertising or in medicine for information about certain diseases and recently included in the “COVID passport”.

Sure, you use them massively, but like so many other problems in technology, you may not have stopped thinking about what they are behind it. We’ll bring you up to date with this approach by reviewing their creation and motivation, more general usage, access, and also the way they are created in case you need to.

What are QR Codes?

These “Quick response codes” (Definition from the original in English Quick reply code) emerged as an evolutionary leap in barcodes and motivated by the need to increase the amount of information and the possible uses of its offer. They were founded in 1994 in Japan by a Toyota subsidiary and quickly spread to the Asian country at the end of the decade. In June 2000, the international ISO standard, which is now widely used around the world, was finally recognized as the most popular 2D code of the existing.

Like any other barcode, the aim of a QR is Store information on a readable optical label by some type of machine or device. To do this, they contain a two-dimensional dot matrix in a square format, usually in black and white (although there are also colors) and with three squares in the corners that allow the reader to see the position of the code.

QR codes

The information capacity they can contain is defined by the number of modules that make up the matrix, by levels: from level I with 21 x 21 modules to level 10, which can be a whopping 177 x 177 modules. The most widely used consumer QR codes are those of 25 x 25 and 29 x 29, great for its balance between size and information hosting capacity.

Although the vast majority of modules are made in black and white, the standard allows some flexibility to add other colors. In these cases, the colors must have a sufficient light-dark contrast so that they can still be read by the systems and code reading programs.

You can also contain graphic accents to make them more attractive and personalized. For example, including pictures of a person that can be used in personal information codes such as business cards. Or as a warning of illnesses or allergies, which can be read by health or security personnel in the event of an accident or emergency. Finally, the use of embedded texts is a further extension to generic texts, since the information is redundant due to the error correction. Reed Solomon including.

As for their location, you can find them in any material that a digitizing device arrives in, from a piece of paper, cardboard to a piece of cloth. Or huge on the facade of a building. And not only in physical format, but also virtually on the web.

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What are QR codes used for?

Because they can store different types of information, QR codes are used for many purposes. Among other:

  • As plain text, for example for greeting messages at conferences.
  • Addresses: home address, business address, etc.
  • Phone Numbers – Personal or business phone number.
  • E-mail addresses: personal or business accounts.
  • URLs with addresses of specific websites or web pages.
  • Links to apps that lead to the Google Play Stores or the Apple App Store, for example.
  • Payments: QR codes can store information about your bank account or credit card.
  • Online account authentication. Websites can display a QR code that a registered user can scan with their smartphone and log in automatically.
  • WLAN authentication. QR codes can be used to store wireless network authentication details such as SSID, password, and encryption type.
  • Two-step verification passwords. A growing group of websites and applications are used during the security setup of 2FA authentication.
  • Other miscellaneous uses. For example marketing; to see the menu of a restaurant; in dealing with virtual currency or even funeral purposes, which in Japan are contained in tombstones that link to websites that contain information about the deceased.

How are QR codes used?

Their first use in Japan was the registration of spare parts in car factories and today they are used massively in all types of Sectors for inventory managementsuch as in marketing programs, customer care programs, or simply to incorporate a company’s visual identity. But the introduction of software that can read QR codes and the explosive increase in mobile phone sales have also massively increased their use in consumption.

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The coronavirus pandemic that we are suffering from has also caused them to be included in the “COVID passports” or simply to digitize a restaurant’s menus, avoiding contact with the physical menu and the risks of transmission through to diminish the community. Advanced tools like Contact less menu They make it possible not only to view the various products by reading the QR codes, but also to generate an order directly, as we would in electronic business transactions.

In the beginning, stationary or portable industrial devices were needed to read the codes, today almost any electronic device, PC, tablet or wearable can be used Smartphones.

In fact, today (aside from the industrial segment) the most common use of a smartphone’s camera is to scan the code and special software to translate it. Many smartphone manufacturers offer their own native solutions and there are dozens of third-party providers in the official Play Store for Android or in the App Store for iPhones. For example, on Android we like the reader and scanner from Kaspersky, while on iOS a free one that works very well is this one from TapMedia.

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All you have to do is Point the camera of your smartphone at the matrix of the QR code and the app you are using will do the restwhich are generally used to link them to a website, a map, an email, a profile on a social network or something else.

What if I want to generate them?

As you may have read, the possibilities of QR codes go far beyond the typical industrial use of a product’s barcode. There are several platforms and tools for creating your own QR that can be accessed from a website, menu, or business card for many of the uses we’ve listed.

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We’ll talk about them in this handy article. On some platforms, it’s as easy to use as selecting the content you want your code to contain, customizing and designing it, and downloading it in various formats so you can print or view it in digital form. These specialized services provide the ability to create dynamic and editable QRs; analysis

These QR codes, which can be found everywhere today and have become one, are very interesting preferred method of storing and distributing information, with the possibility of digitizing media as widespread as smartphones.

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