QR Code Symbol
Find us with your smart-phone.
Wondering what that symbol is about?
The symbol is a form of barcoding that can be accessed with many barcode scanners, but also standard smartphones with a camera. QR Codes are used to identify a specific product, location, or even web site URL (then browse directly to the web site). The symbol you see above is for HistoricFlorence.org. The symbol you see on the side of each page is for that page's URL.
A good place to use the QR Code is on brochures, or other printed advertising, or on web sites. It may seem of little value to have the QR Code on the web site itself, but it is often used as a handy way of bookmarking the web site so that it can be accessed later (no typing involved).
A smartphone with camera can snap a picture of the QR Code, then execute a barcode application to decode it to reveal the URL, then switch to their phone web browser to visit the web site. Most of these steps are becoming automatic. Adding QR Codes is another step to make our web site more accessible to everyone.
Special QR Codes
There is a caveat for QR Codes that has been taken advantage of. QR Codes can become damaged on printed versions (shipping boxes, business cards, etc.). With normal old-fashioned line bar codes, that would make it unreadable. Since QR Codes can pack a lot of data into a small space, it has built into it some redundancy, or the ability to correct mis-read dots, meaning the ability to have a slight amount of damage and the data still be decipherable. Therefore, you could make a thin line through most QR Codes and the data still be readable (in many cases).
Some enterprising people have taken advantage of this feature to put a permanent defacing to a QR Code in the form of adding a simple logo, or a word in the middle of the QR Code. Not stopping there, they found that most smartphone QR Code readers didn't need pure black and white, but could discern where data dots were even if they were lighter than black, and the background not pure white. As a result, you might see a QR Code that is in color, even with an extra word added. Of course, this puts the QR Code at a higher risk should there ever be any other real damage (less chance of recovering the encoded data). The custom color codes are carefully crafted and tweaked so that they still work (too easy to obscure a few dots and it not work as expected). Also, there is an additional charge for customized QR Codes, so naturally, they are reserved for important bits of data.
QR Code Reader Software for Smartphones
In order for your phone to be able to read QR Codes, you need to have QR Code barcode reading software installed as an application on the phone. Many Smartphones are now coming with a standard barcode app already installed that can decode QR Codes. Generally, all phone company suppliers also have a barcode app in their download section. Any phone "App" store will have the barcode software. Even if not, there are alternatives.
QR Codes are not specific to Internet URLs. Some phones may not have Internet access, but can still use the barcode app to decode QR Codes for other purposes, such as contact information, etc. This is a list of Third-Party web sites that offer apps for download directly to your phone. Most also allow downloading to your PC first then transferring to your phone (for non-Internet connected phones). Some also allow setting up the application as a device bookmark on your phone.
- I-Nigma (Supported devices)
- Quick Mark (Supported devices)
- Kawa Reader
- Jaxo Systems (Supported devices)
- Nokia Reader (Nokia N80 series camera phones)
- Red Laser (1D codes only)
- NEO Reader (Supported devices)
For more information, read the QR Code article on Wikipedia.