Bar, QR, and Tag Codes

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Barcode

We’re all familiar with the barcode that’s been around now for many years that makes quick work of checking out at the grocery store and other check-out counters. Finally, you can even scan the barcode yourself with the right application on your smart phone so you can learn the price of the item before you take it up to checkout.

QR Codes

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QR Code

You may have started to notice a new code appearing on magazine pages, coupons, tickets, advertisements, even residential “for sale” signs. If you look closely at the image, it’s a matrix of tiny, square dots. This is a QR code, or Quick Response code, and was designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed. The code was actually developed by a subsidiary of Toyota in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process.

QR Codes are short amounts of information encoded into an image and are now used over a much wider range of applications to display text, provide contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone’s browser.

QR Code Uses

I put a QR code on my webpage so that mobile users could scan in the URL to my mobile website and bookmark it on their mobile phone without ever having to type in the domain name.

Here’s a list of potential QR code applications that I came across:

Auto Dealerships
QR code on sticker attached to windshield of car
Business Cards with link to Mobile Website
link to employee profile or company mobile site
link to freelancer’s portfolio and contact information
Contractors
link on lawn sign advertisement
link on “For Sale” sign on build-to-suit lots for sale
Education
link to teacher homework assignments and contact information
link to videos as learning aids for students
link on library books to book reviews
links on posters to fundraiser information
links on posters to calendars and special events
Entertainment and Music
links on posters to concerts and appearance schedules
links to entertainers bios
links to video clips
Personal
link to resume and contact information
link on birth announcement to pictures and videos of newborn
link on wedding invitation to pictures of banquet hall and menu choices
link to pictures of items available at a yard or garage sales
QR code on sticker attached to windshield of car or boat for sale
Real Estate
link on “For Sale” sign to virtual tour for drive-by customers
link on brochures and open house sheets to virtual tour
Restaurants
links on menu to nutritional information
links on menu to today’s specials and coupons
links on print media to menu, specials and coupons
fortune cookies
Website
link to mobile site for easy bookmarking

Code Generators

Anyone can generate a code. There are a number of free code generators found online. Here are a few:

Microsoft
Kaywa
GoMobi

The output from these code generators is an image which you can save and put on printed material, on your website, or inserted into online communications…anywhere where you can put an image.

QR Code Scanners

For QR codes to be decoded, you have to be able to scan and interpret the code image. Some mobile device manufacturers are starting to include the scanner and its application pre-installed, but if you’re not so lucky, it’s still fairly easy to find a scanner for your device. Do a search for “qr code scanner yourdevice,” e.g., “qr code scanner android.” Many are free. I have an iPhone and installed QR Reader for iPhone by TapMedia Ltd because it had a good customer rating. However, it reads only QR codes. Some scanners can read both QR codes and barcodes.

Tags

Other Codes

“Tag barcodes” are the newest edition of 2D barcodes. They offer more flexibility than older formats both in the barcode design and the content behind it, but are not yet as prevalent as the QR code. Tags can be black-and-white or full-color, including custom images (e.g., a company logo).

How have you taken advantage of QR codes, either as a business or as a consumer? Leave your comments below.

Next time: Pinterest – It’s all the rage; how useful is it for businesses?

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About solutionmaven

Improving your online presence through new or redesigned websites, mobile websites and QR codes, customized blog pages, email marketing, and e-commerce. We know this stuff so you don't have to!
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