Most of us who live in the greater Miami area are pretty familiar with bar codes. We interact with them every time we go to the store. And Miami Beach is a Mecca of stores for the resident or tourist. But did you know more and more businesses are incorporating mobile codes for smartphones and mobile devices? AT&T has an app (later on that), but there are many others, which allow you to read these codes and even make your own.
But, what are they? A QR Code (Quick Response) is a cell phone readable bar code that can store website URL’s, plain text, phone numbers, email addresses and pretty much any other alphanumeric data.
These QR codes can store up to 4296 characters. They are internationally standardized under ISO 18004, so a QR code is a QR code anywhere in the world and although they have been common in Japan & Europe for awhile, they’re just coming into their own in North America.
QR codes can store lots of encoded information but to access that information you need a QR code scanner. Luckily for us, most smartphones now have high-quality cameras that can double as code scanners with the right app.
OK, so now you know what QR codes are, but what are some of the things they can do once scanned?
- Store a contact vCard that will automatically transfer to a mobile phone
- Amass email information and open a pre-addressed, blank email
- Automatically hyperlink a mobile device to a web site
- Automatically dial a phone number
- Address an SMS or text message
- Automatically connect a wireless phone to a WiFi network
- Show you a location
- Deposit event information onto your calendar
- Install an app automatically on a mobile device
- Drive traffic to your on-line store
- Embed information on your social media account, etc
And as I said, they are everywhere now. Many of us still put our website address on our business cards along with our email addresses, name, phone, fax, what you do, etc. With one of these QR codes on your card, all of that info plus a whole lot more can be instantly downloaded to someone’s mobile device. No more keying in the info.
You can even put a code on return address labels to direct people to your website. If you have a newsletter, you can direct someone to your blog automatically, you can encode instructions on how to fix something, Car dealers can feature automobiles on particular websites with all the stats.
You could use them as property tags so that when items are misplaced or lost the codes show your contact information.
To scan the codes you need a smartphone/mobile device with a camera and a QR code app. Many Android phones come with one called ZXing (Zebra Crossing) and another popular one is called QR Droid. Lots of others are available in the Android Marketplace.
With the iPhone you’ll find more than 50 app choices to be had. As I mentioned earlier, AT&T uses the ATTScanner and i-nigma 4 (Both are free for personal use). And these code-reader apps are available for Android and Blackberry as well.
Yeah but, how do I create my own? It’s simple; many web sites provide tools for QR code manufacture. Navigate to the website and enter the data you want included in the code, then press one button and you’ll get a downloadable QR code image. Here’s a few more sites:
- SPARQ Code Generator
- KAYWA QR Code Generator
- ZXing QR Code Generator
- QRDroid QR Code Generator
- 3GVision QR Code Maker
Want to put a QR code on your existing business cards or flyers? Add ‘em as stickers!
Stickerscan.com makes QR code stickers, signs, magnets and even temp-tattoos. Oh, the possibilities with the tattoos! And you can always make your own stickers from home too.
For me, using these on your pet’s license or collar as embedded or a sticker is great. All your information is there and this beats the heck outta using RFID chips embedded in your animal’s skin, which may in some cases, cause cancer; more on that some other time.
So, enjoy and have fun with your new QR codes guys and gals.