What's the Deal with QR Codes?

April 20, 2011


In a post last week we mentioned those funny little square thingys called Quick Response codes, or QR codes. Even if you didn’t know what they were, you’ve probably seen them around somewhere by now – maybe on a Realtor®'s sign, in a store flyer, on a bus shelter, printed on a coaster in a bar, or even on a medication bottle. I was actually shopping the other day when a couple’s conversation caught my attention:

“What is that?”

“Pretty sure you can scan it with your phone or something...”

“Do you need to buy a special Biore app? I have a Canadian Tire app.”

“Probably. I don’t think the Canadian Tire one will do it.”

So we’re here to set the record straight for anyone who hasn’t tried scanning a QR code yet. You'll just need one app for all those QR codes. So if you have a smartphone and want to “follow along” with us, download an app: Scan, i-nigma, or QR Code Reader for iPhone; QR Scanner Pro or i-nigma for Blackberry; or QuickMark QR Code Reader or QR Droid for Android.


Once you have one of those apps downloaded, launch it and it will access your phone’s camera. Hold it up to a QR code (there’s usually a square “guide” that will help you line it up with the code) and it should work its magic. The app will reveal whatever is embedded in the code – launching something like a secret message, event, email, map location, website, video, “purchase now” link, phone call, or even a contest entry. Basically if you would want to share something with people, there’s most likely a way to do so with QR codes. We'll try to not get too technical and bore you to death with the full explanation on how they work, but QR codes or quick response codes are basically 2D barcodes with information embedded in them. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

Some people are actually saying that QR codes are going to save the print industry by connecting printed pieces to the ever-growing digital world. It's rare to see a magazine without one featured in an ad somewhere and you may even spot one on a billboard – much like the one that appeared in Times Square last year. Old Navy is even using them as part of their Easter promotion this year, a Crazy Code Egg Hunt. If you find a QR code in an Old Navy location tomorrow through Sunday, scan it to reveal your prize. 

But it’s not just big companies making use of these. They're a very cost effective way to connect with customers on the go and can even contain a simple logo and customized colours. So if you’re trying to figure out creative ways to use this new marketing tool in Nanaimo, Parksville, the Comox Valley, or anywhere else on Vancouver Island, send me an email by scanning the blue Better Mousetrap QR code here. Yup, you can even scan them from a computer monitor. Neat-o.





Times Square Photo Credit: NYC Media


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