Learn QR Code

We often get asked to explain more about what exactly QR Code is and how it can be used. On this page, we seek to explore the world of possibilites QR Code presents, and teach you a little more about the background of this technology.

QR Code History


A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. In practice, QR codes often contain data for a locator, identifier, or tracker that points to a website or application. A QR code uses four standardized encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and kanji) to store data efficiently; extensions may also be used.

The Quick Response system became popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. Applications include product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, and general marketing.

A QR code consists of black squares arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device such as a camera, and processed using Reed–Solomon error correction until the image can be appropriately interpreted. The required data is then extracted from patterns that are present in both horizontal and vertical components of the image.


QR Code Use Cases


Covid-19 QR Code: Governments around the world have developed Covid Tracking Apps in the fight against coronavirus. A key feature of this is the ability to check-in to a venue, which iss is often a QR Code due to it's ease and speed of use.


Augmented reality: QR codes are used in some augmented reality systems to determine the positions of objects in 3-dimensional space. QR Codes are also being used to deliver Augmented Reality experiences.


Displaying multimedia contents: Multimedia QR Codes are also used to direct users to specific multimedia contents (such as video, audio, images, documents, etc).


Mobile operating systems: QR codes can be used on various mobile device operating systems. iPhones running on iOS 11 and higher and some Android devices can natively scan QR codes without downloading an external app. The camera app is able to scan and display the kind of QR code (only on iPhone) along with the link (both on Android and iPhone). These devices support URL redirection, which allows QR codes to send metadata to existing applications on the device. Many paid or free apps are available with the ability to scan the codes and hard-link to an external URL.


URLs: URLs aided marketing conversion rates even in the pre-smartphone era, but during those years faced several limitations: ad viewers usually had to type the URL and often did not have a web browser in front of them when they first viewed the ad. The chances were high that they would forget to visit the site later, not bother to type a URL, or forget what URL to type. Semantic URLs decreased these risks but did not eliminate them. With the advent of smartphones the issue of viewers not being able to access a website immediately has become less of an issue, however the trouble of typing in URLs still remained and thus QR codes were used in order to allow redirecting to URLs for instant access. Some QR code generators offer an additional feature - dynamic QR codes. Dynamic QR codes can have their end website edited over and over again because even though they themselves cannot be modified, they link to a placeholder URL that redirects the scanner to the website that they actually see. This placeholder's redirect can be customized (hence the name "dynamic") unlike a regular QR code, which has no "in-between" site and links directly to a site that cannot be changed. The placeholder can also have additional functions like analytics of the code's scanners.


Virtual Stores: QR codes have been used to establish "virtual stores", where a gallery of product information and QR codes is presented to the customer, e.g. on a train station wall. The customers scan the QR codes, and the products are delivered to their homes. This use started in South Korea, and Argentina, but is currently expanding globally. Walmart, Procter & Gamble and Woolworths have already adopted the Virtual Store concept.


QR Code Payment: QR codes can be used to store bank account information or credit card information, or they can be specifically designed to work with particular payment provider applications. There are several trial applications of QR code payments across the world. In developing countries like China and Indiaation needed], QR code payment is a very popular and convenient method of making payments. Since Alipay designed a QR code payment method in 2011, mobile payment has been quickly adopted in China. As of 2018, around 83% of all payments were made via mobile payment.


Joining WiFi networks: By specifying the SSID, encryption type, password/passphrase, and if the SSID is hidden or not, mobile device users can quickly scan and join networks without having to manually enter the data.


Food Tracking: Different studies have been made to assess the effectiveness of QR Codes as a means of conveying labelling information and their use as part of a food traceability system. In , it was found that when provided free access to a smartphone with QR Code scanning app, 52.6% of participants would use it to access labelling information. A study made in South Korea showed that consumers appreciate QR code used in food traceability system, as they provide detailed information about food, as well as information that helps them in their purchasing decision. If QR Codes are serialised, consumers can access a web page showing the supply chain for each ingredient, as well as information specific to each related batch, including meat processors and manufacturers, which helps address the concerns they have about the origin of their food.


QR Code News

QR Code adoption by individuals and businesses is sky-rocketing. Here is a QR Code News summary:

Telegraph | QR codes: What are they and how do you use them?

QR codes have become a key way for the Government to monitor the spread of coronavirus.

Which | What are QR codes and are they safe to use?

The NHS COVID-19 app, bars, restaurants and other locations now use QR codes to send information to your phone, but how do they work?.

Gov.UK | Venues required to enforce rule of 6, NHS QR code posters and contact logs

Hospitality venues in England are from today legally required to enforce the rule of 6 or face a fine of up to £4,000.