What Is a QR Code and How Does It Work? | QR Code 101
If you are in the restaurant technology or hospitality industry, you’ve most likely seen QR codes. But what is a QR code? We’ll answer this question and more in this blog post. We’ll also take a look at who invented QR codes and what makes up a QR code. So read on to learn everything you need to know about QR codes!
Let’s start with the aforementioned question.
What Is a QR Code?
It provides people with quick and easy access to information or services. QR codes can be used on or off-premise (see on premise vs off premise). They are a great way to store data, including text, URLs, and other information. When a QR code is scanned, the device will display the contents of the code on its screen.
What Does QR Stand for?
QR is an abbreviation for “Quick Response.” It refers to the fact that digital devices read QR codes quickly.
Who Invented QR Code?: QR Code History
The QR code was invented in 1994 by a group of engineers led by Japanese engineer Masahiro Hara. Hara worked for the Denso Corporation, now a part of the Toyota Group.
The original purpose of QR codes was to track vehicles during the manufacturing inventory process. However, it wasn’t long before people realized QR codes have dozens of other applications.
QR codes quickly became popular outside of Japan, and by 2010 they were being used worldwide. Today, QR codes are used for numerous purposes, including sharing business cards, downloading coupons, and making contactless payments.
QR codes and barcodes are both ways to store and share information. But what’s the difference between them? Let’s take a look at the details below:
- Barcodes are one-dimensional (1D) codes that linearly store data. They comprise a series of black and white bars representing different numbers or letters of varying widths. Barcodes can only hold a limited amount of information, typically around 20 characters.
- QR codes are two-dimensional (2D) codes that can store much more information than barcodes. They comprise a grid of black and white squares, with each square representing a different data point. QR codes can keep up to 4,000 characters of information.
- QR codes can be read with a smartphone or tablet, while barcodes require a special scanner.
- QR codes are much more versatile than barcodes. You can use them for inventory tracking, sharing contact information, starting an eCommerce business, and QR code menu creation. On the other hand, barcodes are mostly used for tracking store inventory and product identification.
So, which one is right for your business? It depends on your needs.
A barcode with UPC code and SKU number might be the better option if you need to track inventory. But a QR code is the way to go if you want to give consumers a quick and easy way to access more information about your product or service.
What Makes Up a QR Code?
QR codes are composed of seven elements, each serving a specific purpose. Let’s take a look at the seven elements that make up a QR code:
- Position detection markers are used to help the scanner identify where the QR code begins and ends. These square markers are always placed in the corners of the code, and there are typically three of them.
- An alignment marker helps the scanner correctly line up the QR code to read it properly. This square marker is smaller than the position detection markers.
- Timing patterns are horizontal and vertical lines that run through the QR code. They help the scanner identify where one line of data starts and ends and synchronize its reading of the code.
- Version information is included in QR codes of version 2 or higher and consists of a string of characters that indicate the version number of the code. This helps scanners correctly interpret the code, even if it has been damaged or partially obscured.
- Format information is used to determine the data mask pattern and error tolerance of the code. The data mask pattern is used to identify which bits in the code are valid data bits and which are not. The error tolerance is used to determine how many errors can be tolerated when scanning the code.
- Data and error correction keys encode the data in the QR code. The data key contains the actual data to be encoded, while the error correction key helps correct any errors that may occur during scanning or decoding.
- The quiet zone is a margin of white space that surrounds the QR code. It helps ensure that the code can be read correctly by scanners and makes it easier for humans to spot the code when it is printed on paper.
Static vs. Dynamic QR Code
Let’s take a closer look at these two QR code types and see which one is right for your business.
What Is a Static QR Code?
A static QR code is a QR code that contains fixed, unchanging data. It means you cannot change the data encoded. They’re much simpler to create–there’s no need to generate a new code every time you want to use it. And because they don’t change, static QR codes are less likely to be corrupted or damaged.
However, because you cannot change the information in a static QR code, it is unsuitable for storing data that needs to be updated frequently, such as tracking information or prices. You can scan static QR codes multiple times without regenerating them, making them convenient for storing data that does not need to be updated frequently.
You can also use static QR codes to share simple messages or instructions. For example, a static QR code could be placed on a public bulletin board with a message that says, “scan me for more information.”
What Is a Dynamic QR Code?
A dynamic QR code is a type of QR code that can be changed or updated after creation. This means you can change the URL or other information embedded in the QR code without generating a new code. Dynamic QR codes are used in various situations where the content needs to be regularly updated, such as a coupon, a ticket, and a restaurant promotion.
One advantage of dynamic QR codes is tracking how many people scan your code. This information is helpful for eCommerce marketing and research purposes. Additionally, you can change the URL associated with the QR code to expire after a certain number of scans or at a specific date and time. This ensures that only the most up-to-date information is accessed.
To create a dynamic QR code, you will need the best QR code generator that offers this feature. When someone scans your QR code, it will redirect to the updated content. Once you have made your code, you can download it and print it out. You can also share it online or via social media. With dynamic QR codes, you can maximize your social media ROI and keep your audience coming back for more.
If you are using a dynamic QR code for marketing purposes, consider using a URL shortener so that your code is not too long. This will make it easier for people to scan and read. You can also add tracking parameters to your URL to track how many people click through to your website.
Dynamic QR codes offer several advantages over static QR codes. They are flexible, can be updated regularly, and provide tracking capabilities. If you want to make your marketing more effective, consider using dynamic QR codes.
What Are the Different QR Code Encoding Types?
There are four types of QR Code encodings: numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and kanji. Let’s take a closer look at each:
- Numeric encoding is best suited for short strings of numbers, such as a phone number or zip code.
- Alphanumeric encoding can handle letters and numbers, making it ideal for website URLs or contact information.
- Byte/binary encoding is necessary for any data that isn’t simply text, such as images or other file types.
- Kanji encoding is designed specifically for Japanese characters.
Frequently Asked Questions About What Is a QR Code
What Happens When I Scan a QR Code?
When you scan a QR code, your phone reads the code and then decodes it to take you to the website or content associated with it. This allows you to access information or perform specific actions. For example, you scan a QR code to get a coupon for a store.
Are QR Codes a Security Risk?
It depends. QR codes are just like any other code or link; you can use them for good or unethical purposes. If you’re using them to access sensitive information, they could be a risk. But if you’re using them to connect to a website or get a coupon, then probably not. So it’s important to be aware of the risks before using them.
Ensure you only scan codes from trusted sources and avoid clicking on links you don’t recognize. If you’re ever unsure about a QR code, it’s best to delete it or not scan it at all.
Do QR Codes Expire?
QR codes do not technically expire, but they can become outdated if the information they contain changes. For example, if you have a QR code that links to your website, and you later change the URL of your website, the QR code will no longer work. Similarly, if you create a QR code for an offer or expired discount, the QR code will no longer be valid.