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Are You Ready for QR Codes? ...Do You Know What They Are?

Posted by fusionbox on March 15, 2011, 6 p.m.

You've probably noticed these around town, on TV or at a concert:

QR Code

But did you know what to do with it? I'm sure a few of you do, but based on a recent study of British teenagers, I'm guessing most of you don't. Here are some of the results:

  • 72% of 11-18 year olds don't have the software to read QR codes, or aren't aware their phone can read them.
  • Only 43% believed that QR codes could be read by a phone.
  • 8% of girls thought they were magic eye pictures.
  • Only 33% knew what they were called.

If you're in the group that doesn't, rest assured that you are not the only one!

QR codes are 2-D barcodes that can be read by dedicated QR code readers or by downloading an app on your smartphone. Pretty much anything can be encoded in it, from a URL to a website to text or a phone number. They are built to be fast and easy – hence, the “QR”, which stands for “Quick Response”.

All you need to do, as a user, is download an application (search for “qr code reader” in your phone's app marketplace – most are free) on your camera-enabled phone and open it. You simply take a picture of the code and the information inside is revealed to you.

They are usually used to promote contests and online games, or share information on social media channels such as leading you to a band's Facebook Fan Page in the hopes that you'll “Like” them. They are also popular among restaurants, who will place them in their window. They usually lead you to details about their menu or reviews about their food.

You might also see one of these (called a Microsoft Tag):

Microsoft Tag

This is Microsoft's version of a QR code, and has been used in conjunction with movie releases like Summit Entertainment's Source Code.

That's about it. Do you think you'll take a picture of the next QR code or Microsoft Tag that you see?