The Buzz about QR Codes

QR Codes, an acronym for Quick Response, are used to take a piece of information from a one type of media and put it in to your cell phone, where it can be used to access the embedded information. The media could be a link, a video, text, photos, whatever. It is a way to add an interactive element to your advertising.

In its simplest context, think “print based hypertext link” – encode a URL into the QR Code and then point a mobile phone (or other camera-enabled mobile) at the fancy barcode. If the device has QR Code decoding software installed, it will fire up its browser and go straight to the embedded URL.

Thinking one step further, a QR Code can also contain a phone number, an SMS message, V-Card data or just plain alphanumeric text, and the scanning device will respond by opening up the correct application to handle the encoded data appropriately courtesy of the FNC1 Application Identifiers that are embedded in the encoded data.

Say you have a trifold brochure or a flyer that you created to market your business. By adding a QR Code to the printed media, you can drive potential clients to a coupon offer, your blog, your website or a YouTube Video in which you announce special offers. Most modern mobile phones can convert the codes or there are applications available for smartphones that do not support native QR code.

A QR Code is a matrixed, or two-dimensional, barcode that is readable by mobile devices. The technology is everywhere in Japan, has caught on in a big way in Europe and is just now gaining some momentum in the US.

Originally created for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR Codes are intended to allow the contents to be decoded at a high speed. QR Codes are now used in a much broader context, including both commercial and consumer applications aimed at mobile phone users (known as mobile tagging).

Businesses and individuals can generate and print their own QR Code for others to scan and use by visiting one of several free QR Code generating sites. Google ‘free QR code generator sites’ and you get tons of sites, including (not in ranked order):, getqr from,,,, and to name a few. In less than a minute, I was able to create and email myself a QR Code of my URL that I saved as a .png for later use.

Some of the QR Code generators also supply analytics that enable you track the original source. This can help you target your marketing dollars more effectively.

The use of the QR Code is free of any license. The QR Code is defined and published as an ISO standard. The QR Code contains its own error correction data, internal orientation calibration and self-alignment markers. In this way it doesn’t matter whether the QR code is upside down or wrapped around a curved surface, the message will still get through.

The term QR Code itself is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated; they own the patent rights but have chosen not to exercise them.

If you are looking to supplement your marketing arsenal, add QR Codes to the mix.