Meeting Date: 7 June 2013

Prepared By: Wendy Campanella


The Curious Case of the QR Code

You've all seen them. Those dotty black squares on posters, advertisements, direct mail... even your cereal box. These things are called 2D bar codes and come in a handful of formats, but the preeminent version is the QR code. The QR stands for Quick Response, and that's because with a scan of a QR Code reader and sometimes a click or two, you can be right at a well of supplemental information about the item upon which you found the curious looking block. 


We've used 1D bar codes for years. They're on just about every item in the grocery store and they've enabled our shopping experiences to be first faster and recently even completely self managed. Those 1D codes can hold up to 30 characters. The new 2D version encodes information in two directions, can be scanned at just about any angle and can hold over 7,000 characters of information.

In recent times they're everywhere, and yet statistics show that well under half of us actually scan them to avail ourselves of the information or experiences they provide. The following video will give you a quick overview on how to get in the game using your smart phone.

QR Codes (3:47)

QR codes don't have to be boring. Now that you're paying attention, you'll notice that many of them incorporate designs or make use of their context. Perhaps my favorite example is the Guiness QR cup. Empty, the glass looks utterly ordinary. Filled with your average amber beer, the QR code is unscanable due to lack of the required dark squares. But brimming with the dark, bold taste of Guinness, the QR code comes alive and leads the user to a new experience—checking you in at 4square, updating your Facebook status, or tweeting your followers that you're enjoying a tasty drink.

Here are some that take Quick Response into an art form.

Even the Royal Dutch Mint has jumped into the game with a collectible coin.

If you have yet to scan your first QR code, it won't be long until you do. Because the concept has passed the tipping point, and their use by "publishers" whether traditional, advertisers, or physical is becoming pervasive. In this next video you'll see how they're becoming a walk in the park. 

Ault Park using QR code technology (0:53)

For those of you headed to Lisbon for the Rotary International Convention, you may want to see if you can find the following use of QR codes. If you do, snap a pic and send it!

Portugal Makes QR Code out of an Ancient Stone (2:26)

If you're not yet impressed with the value of the QR code, I dare you to remain nonplussed after viewing this real world application.

Tesco Homeplus Virtual Subway Store in South Korea (2:31)

By now I'm sure you're convinced of the amazing power of the QR code. Have a look at the following video to see how you might make use of them in your business, non-profit or everyday life.

QR Codes - 21 Amazing Uses (9:18)

And so ends our tale of the Curious Case of the QR Code. Now let your scanning adventure begin!

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