Technology: QR Codes

What are those weird square shapes everywhere, and how can they change my life?

QR Codes (photo credit: courtesy)
QR Codes
(photo credit: courtesy)
Most people don’t know what a QR code is. Yet I’m sure almost everyone has seen one. The little pixelated squares hide in advertisements, are stamped on your bills, show up on protest signs and are even drawn on T-shirts. But did you know that behind those codes is a whole world of information that most people never see? A QR code, or quick response code, is a way of delivering information directly to your cell phone without the need to type in anything. Since typing information into your phone is tedious and prone to misspellings, especially with modern touch screens, QR codes were invented to simplify that process. All you need to do is install a QR app such as Scanner for the iPhone or Bar Code Scanner for Android.
You then load up the app and hold your phone’s camera up to the code. The QR scanning app will snap a picture of the code and show you what is hidden behind the dots, be it contact information, such as a name and phone number, a link to a website, a cell-phone app, a video or even just some text.
Almost everywhere you go, you can find QR codes on advertisements and storefronts.
Those codes frequently contain additional information, discounts on whatever product is being advertised, or other fun content to help you pass the time. For example, Israel Railways has a QR code advertisement for Mifal Hapayis on the train’s tables, which links to a game that lets you take pictures of yourself next to its iconic “Lotogutz” characters.
If you are the type of person who uses GPS to remember where you parked your car, you will be thrilled to know that big malls and airports frequently have interactive maps hiding behind a QR code – generally on advertisements or near the information desk. This is especially useful for the generic malls in the US, which all seem to have been designed by the same person – the person who designed the Labyrinth of ancient Greek mythology. Some of these codes also include discounts at various stores that the mall wants to advertise, but not enough to print flyers.
QR CODES are also a great way to meet people. Craigslist is full of “missed connections” – advertisements by people who shared a moment, but then made the mistake of parting without sharing contact details and sometimes regretting it for a lifetime. A QR code printed on your shirt could have given that mystery person your details without her even needing to ask.
Not only is a QR shirt good for keeping in touch, it can break the ice. You can encode lines such as “Say hi to me for a free drink” or “You’ll never know unless you ask me” as a fun way to meet new, like-minded people. After all, if someone has gone though the trouble to scan the code on your shirt, they are generally worth a few moments of your time.
If you go to conventions, consider encoding some contact details on your shirt, maybe even a link to your personal website or list of interests. This is also a good way to give your name to people who have forgotten it and are too embarrassed to ask again.
No more awkwardly reading out your number, or seeming full of yourself by giving a casual acquaintance a business card.
Instead of printing thousands of business cards, why not just print one and let people scan it? A card with a QR code can directly add the contact information stored on the card to the person’s cellphone address book. And since you are only printing one, it doesn’t matter how expensive it is. You can make the most beautiful card in the world, and it will be cheaper than piles of cheap-looking business cards that will just end up gathering dust once you change your name, address or phone number.
I’VE SAVED this one for last because I couldn’t imagine putting anything after it.
Every time someone dies, people who knew them experience an indescribable loss. And when words can be found, they generally don’t fit comfortably on a tombstone.
Also, sometimes the deceased has a Facebook page full of notes from the people who love him or her, or a website full of memories.
This is why companies like Quiring Monuments have been offering digital memorials linked to the tombstone of your departed with a QR code. Mourners can scan the code when they visit to view the memorial page and leave a note, and read about how the person touched others in his or her lifetime.
But you don’t need Quiring to memorialize a loved one. Most tombstones can be inscribed with an image when you order it, and the content of that code will forever be immortalized. Anyone who stops by the grave will have a chance to see things the deceased created in life and hear how much he or she is still loved – or whatever else you decide to put on that page to share.