QR Codes — What they are. What they can do. Why you should care.

Scan this code on your phone and be re-directed to the DDT homepage

QR Codes are 2 dimensional bar codes designed in the mid 90’s for inventory tracking systems. Their use has since been modified and standardized to incorporate more than inventory management, though. The use of these 2D codes has spread commercially, beginning in Japan, and used by businesses, books, stores, product manufactures, advertisers and the like to enhance marketing materials. QR codes are just beginning to garner press here in the US, so should your business jump aboard?

Well, there may be good reason to do so. For one, QR Codes are cheap free and can be created easily on a plethora of sites. The actual codes themselves are standardized by ISO so you know that there are standards. QR Codes have many uses when scanned (discussed below) including displaying text, redirecting to a URL, dialing a telephone number, creating an SMS message or E-Mail, passing along a V-Card (a virtual business card containing your contact information), a google maps location or a social network address. These codes are typically used by mobile users who take a picture of the code with their cell phone camera thus lending itself nicely to the new mobile breakthrough that is happening right now.

How to use a QR Code:

iPhone scan of QR Code

In mainstream use today, QR Codes are displayed on any flat surface from a piece of paper, to a t-shirt, to a screen. Users will then take a picture of the QR code using their cell phone and an application that was meant to read and translate these QR Codes. There are many free applications out there for all devices and many, such as the android-based cell phones, come pre-installed with such a reader on them. Once a picture of the code has been taken, the user will be shown either the text, e-mail, contact information, text message or be re-directed to a website for more content.

How can this be useful?

QR Codes can be useful by allowing others to quickly locate more information about you or store it in a more convenient way. Say you add a QR Code to your business card with your contact information (VCard) embedded in the QR Code. Instead of having people lose your business card, they will be able to scan your code and add all of your contact info to their cell phone right away. Or perhaps you have marketing materials and feel like you would like to display more about what your product/service can do and there just isn’t enough room on the pamplet. Or maybe paper isn’t the best medium, and you’d prefer people look at your ad and visit your online video. The addition of a QR code can help make these a reality by continuing on the marketing experience onto the web. Then not only will they have seen your marketing material, but will have also visited your website and received further information previously unavailable or less accessible.

QR Codes can be created for any business and with their no-cost status and the impending explosion of the mobile market, this may be a tool businesses should strongly consider implementing in the near future.

Written by

David is an avid social entrepreneur and Boston sports fanatic. He founded Diversified Data Technologies way back in 2009 and stuck around to see it grow. His party quarks include unnecessary dancing and being an overly hospitable host. When looking, he can be found capturing the twitterverse at @DLanphear, being professional on LinkedIn, or bouncing around town with Foursquare.

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