Getting to Grips With QR Codes

Have you spotted how common QR codes have become lately? On seat reservations on the train; on food packaging; in magazines. Pretty much anywhere with a bit of spare white space seems to have them these days.

QR means Quick Response and is a two dimensional version of the bar code we're more familiar with. It can carry lots more information than its bar code cousin and was first used by car manufacturers. When I went round the Nissan car factory in Sunderland in the early 1990s, they were using bar codes to track progress through the production line, so I'm not surprised QR codes hail from this industry.

If you took a picture of the above code on your smart phone(or on a laptop camera or suchlike), you'd be directed right back to Veg Plotting's Home Page. Pretty cool eh? NAH and I are very excited about their potential, even though neither of us have a smart enough phone to read them. Indeed NAH has set up a QR code for his blog and consequently put up a couple of large laminated versions up on Joyce. They've become quite a talking point with younger visitors toMidsomer Norton station. He's also put his code on his blog's business style cards - that's one up on mine :)

I discussed their possibilities when I went round the RHS trials field at Wisley back in September. It would be a great way of directing visitors to the details of particular trials and a more instant way of getting there. At the moment the display just has details of the general AGM trials website in its usual www form.
 
They also have great potential for plant labels: again a code which links to AGM information could be displayed where applicable, and/or to much more detailed cultivation instructions than the rather limited version we currently see. I've also seen them used for various competitions and special offers.
 
However, more of us would need to have smart phones before these codes could become truly enmeshed in our daily lives. I also believe there needs to be sufficient written information alongside to tempt us to explore a particular code. If they were everywhere and the majority led to information we're not interested in, then we'd soon get pretty fed up and start ignoring them.
 
Claire Potter came up with a fun use via the wrapping paper she launched recently. Her QR code directs you to a secret part of her website with all kinds of craft ideas. The code's error correction capabilities also mean they're being explored as an artistic medium as up to 30% of a code can be altered without impacting on its successful usage. Have a look at @BarCodeArt'sblog for more information and ideas.
 
I obtained my QR code via the kaywa website (via google) if you fancy having a further explore for yourself. There's quite a few websites offering them (e.g. the blog link above links to another), though I don't know whether there's a 'best' provider.
 
I'd love to hear about your ideas or the novel ways you've seen them being used via the Comments below.

* = apologies to BlogHer readers, but I don't seem to be able to get the HTML link to my QR code displaying properly at the moment, like it does on my actual blog. Please bear with me - this is my first attempt at posting something here!
 
Update: this post has been picked up by The Times of India in their QR codes topic, so welcome to anyone who's hopped over from there :)
 

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