QR Codes 101

An example of a QR code

Have you seen QR codes (see image) appearing in ads and stores? The use of Quick Response (QR) codes is on the rise, and we can expect to see even more of them in the future.

The following information is taken from an article about QR codes. The full citation for the article and links to the full-text version both online and in PDF are at the end of this post.

QR (quick response) codes are a matrix bar code readable by smart phones and mobile phones with cameras. QR codes are also known as 2d codes, 2d bar codes, or mobile codes. All you have to do is download the free app on your smart phone (if it isn’t already pre-installed) to get access.

A QR code holds much more information than a regular bar code. Types of information that can be encoded include: URLs, phone numbers, SMS messages, v-card, or any text. These codes are called QR codes because the content can be decoded at a very high speed.

QR Codes are being implemented more and more due to the fact that the number of smart phones is rapidly increasing. The marketing data expects smart phones to be in the hands of half of all U.S. mobile users by the end of 2011. A 2009 ECAR study found that 51.2% of the participants already owned an internet-capable hand held device and 11.8% planned to purchase one within the next year.

QR codes originated in Japan and have already been popular for years there. In Japan, QR codes are used in store windows, on posters, billboards, buildings, printed on receipts, posted in doctors offices, on TV commercials, printed on McDonalds wrappers (to give nutrition facts), AND even on a gravestone maker so people can find out more about the person buried there!

Big name brands such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein are beginning to use QR codes as a key component of their marketing efforts in magazine ads and on posters.

In July, a giant QR code was displayed on the Thomas Reuters billboard in Times Square. When people scanned this code, it took them to a mobile site where they could watch the “Be the One” campaign video and sign a petition to help clean up the Gulf oil spill.

There are many free QR code generators available on the internet. Google Chrome has an extension for making a QR code and either saving it to a disk or sharing it on Facebook.

Libraries are beginning to implement the use of QR codes:

  • Library exhibits- links songs, videos, websites, surveys, contests, etc. or other information that enhances the exhibit.
  • On video/DVD cases that link to mobile-friendly video trailers.
  • Codes placed on study room doors connecting to room reservation forms.
  • Linking to library audio tours for orientation.
  • End-caps: takes you to online articles and books in that area of study or interest.

Libraries are going to begin to implement QR codes more and more in the future. These codes are going to be implemented where they can be easily used and where they are going to make the users’ lives easier.

The information in this post came from the following article:
Robin Ashford (2010). QR codes and academic libraries: Reaching mobile users. College & Research Libraries News, 71, 526-530.

Click here to view the full article.
Click here for the PDF.


2 Responses to “QR Codes 101”

  1. 1 Nathan King November 12, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Big brands are definitely helping increase awareness and acceptance of QR Codes. Nice info on how libraries can use them… We just posted some great data on QR Code awareness on our blog: http://www.austin-williams.com/blog/post.cfm/qr-code-infographic

  2. 2 Karen Wanamaker November 15, 2010 at 11:23 am

    A colleague just pointed out that the Reading Eagle (a local newspaper for those outside of this area) published an article about them as well on Nov. 13th: “QR codes provide shortcut to information: symbols connect smart-phone users with businesses.” http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=263977

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