As a Millennial, I like to think I have a fairly good idea of new technologies and social media platforms, but one type of emerging media I never really got on board with is QR codes. And judging by the Tumblr blog, Pictures of People Scanning QR Codes, I am not the only one. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn a little more about the mysterious barcode and share some of my findings with those who are as clueless as I am. What is a QR Code? A QR (or quick response) code is a type of 2-D matrix barcode that stores data in both directions. This means it can be scanned both vertically and horizontally, unlike UPC codes, which are 1-dimensional. A traditional 1-D barcode can store up to 30 numbers, but a 2-D barcode can store around 7,000 numbers which presents a plethora of opportunities like playing a video, downloading a mobile app, checking-in on Foursquare, updating a Twitter status, “liking” a Facebook page, and displaying map directions, just to name a few capabilities. Once a QR code is created it can be placed on just about any surface or location: newspapers, television ads, billboards, product packaging, you name it. This can drive traffic and interaction from anywhere. The great thing about QR codes is that tools to generate and tools to read them are free. There are also management tools available to track scanning analytics. These tools are not always free but they are relatively inexpensive and sometimes have free trial periods with fees based on the number of scans. Even thought I have never downloaded an app to read QR codes (and therefore have never scanned a QR code) I at least know what they typically look like. QR codes are actually not the only kind of 2-D barcode, and they also don’t have to be so black and white. QR codes include an Error Correction Level (ECL) in which the error tolerance can be set by the code generator to be as high as 30%. This enables damaged codes to still be scanned, which allows for creative license in the generation of designer QR codes
Will they last? In my quest to learn a little bit more about QR codes, I came across a number of articles that argue the use of QR codes to be on the decline. I would have to agree. What do you think? Are you a QR code newbie like me? Check out this site for some more basics on the subject.