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Everything you need to go from zero to hero in QR technology. Read on for examples, "how-to", history and even a bit of the strange.

What Are QR Codes?

A QR code, or quick response code, is a type of two-dimensional barcode that was originally designed for the auto industry. QR codes were originally invented in 1994 by Denso-Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota. The QR codes were originally designed to track vehicle parts during the manufacturing process. More recently, QR codes have become popular outside of the auto industry due to the amount of data a QR code can hold, and their easy readability.

QR Code Design

The design of a QR code encompasses the version, error correction level, and character set. The character set refers to the type of data that can be encoded into the QR code. Character sets for QR codes include numeric, alphanumeric, binary, and Kanji or Kana. The type of character set determines how many characters can be encoded in the QR code.

QR codes have a unique error correction feature. They use the Reed Solomon error correction algorithm. The higher the error correction level of a QR code, the less storage capacity the code has however the number of errors that can be corrected depends on the location of the errors as well as the size of the symbol. There are four levels of error correction and they include Level L, Level M, Level Q, and Level H. At each error correction level, a certain percentage of codewords can be restored. This means that if the QR code is partially covered or is manipulated to include a logo or image, it can still be read because of the error correction algorithm.

The format information of a quick response code records two different things including the error correction level and the mask pattern used for the code. Masking refers to the breaking up of patterns in the data area that could potentially confuse a scanner. The mask patterns are repeated to cover the whole QR code symbol and the format information is protected with a BCH code. Two complete copies of the BCH code are included in every QR code.

How QR Codes Work

QR codes work by being scanned with a smartphone. Smartphones have applications that can be downloaded that have the capability to scan and read QR codes, pointing the user to the intended information. Most QR code scanner apps are provided free of charge as are many online QR code generators. QR codes can be generated with many types of information including websites, contact information, pictures, coupons, discounts, and more. QR codes have been proven to be a very effective marketing tool and have the ability to connect users to all types of information.