Quick Response or "QR" Codes are two-dimensional barcodes that are cropping up all over the place - especially in printed advertising materials. They are readable with traditional barcode readers, but more importantly with modern camera phones. All you need is one of a number of FREE camera phone reader applications for QR Codes available for the common smartphone platforms including the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. Just go to the appropriate application store (iTunes Store, Android Marketplace, or Blackberry AppWorld) and search for and download a "QR Reader". Most QR Codes contain web addresses (URLs), although they may also contain other kinds of data like phone numbers or e-mail addresses. To use the reader, just run the app, point the camera at the barcode, and click the button. If you want more general info about QR codes, check out this Wikipedia article.
What many people don't realize is how easy it is to start using QR Codes of your own to link your printed materials to additional information online. Here's the simplest way I've found:
- Go to the webpage to which you would like to link using a QR Code.
- Copy the web address (URL) shown at the top of the page (in the address entry area of your browser).
- Go to http://createqrcode.appspot.com and paste your link into the box labeled "Text to embed in QR Code".
- Select "500x500" for the "Image Size", and then click "Create QR Code".
- Right-click on the image that appears, and select "Copy" (if you want to paste it into Word or Publisher right away) or "Save Picture As..." (to save to your computer for later use).
If you would like to make it easy to track usage of your QR Codes, I suggest you create a free account at http://bit.ly, which will let you take long addresses and shorten them. You will then be able to associate the short bit.ly addresses with your QR Codes, and later log into bit.ly to view statistics on the usage of those QR Codes.
If you've thought of some clever uses for QR Codes, please post them to the Comments below!