What is a QR code? A guide to the basics of barcodes

    • A QR code is a type of barcode, or scannable pattern, containing various types of data, such as website links, account information, phone numbers, or even coupons.
    • QR codes are found everywhere from menus to social media but have gained popularity during the epidemic for their contactless nature.
    • To scan a QR code with your iPhone or Android, you want to use your camera’s QR Code Lens feature or download the QR Code Reader app.
    • For more stories visit Insider’s Tech Reference Library.

    You’ve probably pasted a square barcode into the back of a graffiti light pole or a business card.

    That pixel code shaped in a square is called a QR code. They help you download apps, give you contactless access to a restaurant’s menu, can be found on billboards and marketing and social media to promote items and deals.

    Despite the invention in the mid-90s, the QR code did not gain real momentum until the era of smartphones. Mobile devices allowed the digital sign to be used in more dynamic and diverse ways, making it easier – and in an epidemic era, the way to communicate and share information.

    Here you need to know about QR Code.

    What is a QR code?

    Invented in 1994 by Masahiro Hara, chief engineer of Denso Wave, a Japanese company and Toyota subsidiary, QR codes were initially used to track vehicles and parts as they moved through the manufacturing process .

    Short, QR code for Quick Response is a type of barcode that can be easily read with digital devices such as smartphones. They store information as a series of pixels in a square grid that can be read in two directions – top to bottom and right to left – unlike standard barcodes that can only be read from top to bottom.

    QR codes can store approximately 7,000 digits or 4,000 characters, including punctuation and special characters. It can also encode information such as phone numbers or Internet addresses. The arrangement of each QR code varies depending on the information it contains, and this changes the arrangement of its black module.

    Man scanning QR code in magazine

    A man scans a QR code in a magazine.

    wundervisuals / getty images

    When creating a code, you can add data to it, although it enhances the structure of the code and makes it more complex, and even personalizes them. Additionally, the data structure of a QR code contains duplicates, ensuring that it will still be read by a scanner, with 30% loss of code.

    While the software used to generate the QR code does not collect personal information from users, the location and time of the scan, the number of times a code is scanned, and the operating system of the scanning device are all available from the manufacturer of the code.

    Static vs Dynamic QR Code

    QR codes differ in design based on the encoded data and function, and can be classified mainly in two ways: static and dynamic.

    Once created a static QR code cannot be modified. It is ideal for creating an QR code in mass for an event. One drawback is its lack of creativity and may not allow for an analysis of how often the code can be scanned. An example of a good static QR code would be one for your Wi-Fi password.

    Contactless payment with QR code

    The QR codes you use for contactless payments are dynamic codes.

    Dowell / Getty Images

    Dynamic QR code allows you to change and edit the code multiple times. When the code is scanned, it redirects you to the URL inside. These codes provide the freedom to package your design, such as adding contrasting colors. They also have the ability to track and measure advertising statistics.

    These added insights allow the QR code creator to scan the code with where and with which device. With the addition of campaign information and reset scans, all results collected can be downloaded as comma-separated values ​​or CSV reports.

    What can you do with a QR code?

    Nowadays, QR codes are still used to track products and products information through the supply chain, but they are also used for much more. You used a QR code to view a menu, link a social profile or add a friend, fly, download an app, send and receive payments, use Wi-Fi, and authenticate your login details is. The possibilities are really endless with QR codes.

    Denso Wave has also made some significant improvements to the design of the code. Now QR codes can come with brand security, anti-bogus measures, and traceability, all features to improve the QR code experience as they become increasingly common across industries.

    Eppendorf Tube with QR Codes

    QR codes are still used in industries as part of the supply and production chain.


    What is a QR Code?

    Visually, a QR code looks like a twisted crossword puzzle, but its design is critical to its function. Here are some of its most important elements.

    • Status detection markers: The major sections located at the three corners of each code provide easy recognition and help to read QR codes at high speeds.
    • Alignment Marker: These help to straighten the code placed on curved surfaces. It is smaller than a position detection marker, but will be larger than more information holding a QR code.
    • Timing Pattern: The black and white optional modules configure the data grid and help the scanner to calculate how large the data matrix is.
    • Version Information: This determines which of the 40 different QR code versions are being used, with the most common versions being 1 to 7.
    • Format Information: This pattern holds information about the data mask pattern and error tolerance of the code, making it easy to scan.
    • Data and error correction key: The error correction function shares a structural space where all the data in a QR code is contained. This correction is required to allow up to 30% of the code to be read if the block’s mechanism is damaged.
    • Quiet area: This white space can be seen as a limitation of a QR code to help make sense and provide structure for scanning. It determines what is and is not part of the code.

    How to scan qr code

    Scanning a QR Code at a Restaurant

    Restaurants changed to QR codes during the COVID-19 epidemic to reduce contact with the menu.

    evrim ertik / getty images

    Most smartphones are equipped with a QR reader or scanner, but if you don’t have one, you can download it from your phone’s App Store.

    To scan a QR code with your iPhone, open your camera app and if your device is like this, enter your device’s QR code mode. You then line your camera up to code so that all four corners are in focus. Your phone should automatically take a snapshot and a visible link to the code’s data should appear on the screen.

    This process is similar for those who want to scan a QR code on Android 8 and later. Press the Home button and wait for the option to select “Lens”. After opening, point your camera at the QR code and tap on the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen to scan the code.

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