QR Code Basics You Need To Know

One unexpected thing we learned from COVID is that QR codes are pretty handy. This post explains how to use these fancy links and shares some unexpected places they are popping up—from the sky to the graveyard.

Before COVID, the QR code was a dying marketing trend few bothered with. Life with COVID forced us to be inventive in finding ways to communicate in a suddenly touchless world. And so, the QR code was resurrected. Let’s look at how they work, how safe they are, and then finish with some fun facts that may surprise you.

What is a QR code?

QR stands for Quick Response. These pixelated images, often made up of black and white squares, can provide you with a faster and more intuitive way to get to a web page. It saves you from entering the website address. QR codes give us immediate access to this information, hence their name.

How do you use QR codes?

Your Camera app has a built-in QR codes reader. Open your camera app, and point your camera at the QR code from any direction. You do not have to take a picture, just point the camera at the QR codes and wait a second for a window to appear on your screen. Tap on anywhere on that window to be taken to a webpage where you will set.

Are QR codes safe?

Think of QR codes the same way as you would any other link. Some are secure, and some are not. Only scan QR codes from sources you trust. While many QR codes are safe, some may be links to nefarious websites that might download malware onto your device. Make it a habit not to point your camera at QR codes from unknown or untrusted sources. It can be hard to tell, so let common sense guide you. This is a topic we discuss in Digital Security Course launching in January 2022.

Do I need an internet connection to scan a QR code?

Yes. Your mobile device will need to be connected to cellular data or Wi-Fi to use a QR code.

Where are QR codes used?

QR codes can store all types of data, but we are most familiar with those that contain phone numbers, website links, or links to text or images. QR codes can also give access to Wi-Fi, directly link to an app download, and even receive or send payment information. Here are a few other places QR Codes are used:

  • Retail, sales, and marketing
    To link quickly to product pages on a website. Let’s say you were looking at coat in a magazine ad with a QR tucked into the corner of the ad. Use that QR code to go to the web page with information about where you could buy that coat, what sizes and colours are available, and other information.
  • Coronavirus Tracing
    In some places, you can scan a QR code on arrival at a restaurant or other venue. This makes contact tracing more automated and helps stop the spread of the virus. If someone tests positive for COVID at that location, visitors are alerted.
  • Product Packaging
    Reveal information about the product, such as nutritional information or special offers. Sometimes using the QR code on a package is easier than trying to read the impossibly small print on the label.

A little QR code history

In 1994, a Toyota subsidiary first used QR Codes to track vehicle manufacturing and its parts. They were mainly used as an alternative to traditional bar codes because they could store more data. In the 2010s, smartphone manufacturers started releasing devices with QR codes readers built in. That’s when we started seeing QR codes on ads, posters, and bus stops. But they didn’t take off until COVID-19 changed the world.

QR Code Fun Facts

  • QR Code Art QR codes don’t have to be black and white. All the code needs is a contrast with its background. Companies and artists are designing almost beautiful QR Code art.
  • Damaged QR Codes Even damaged QR Codes still work. It seems the image can be damage by as much as 30% and still be readable.
  • QR Codes for the Dead QR codes are now used on gravestones linking graveyard visitors to online tributes to the dead—one way to stay eternally present.
  • QR Codes in the Clouds Drones were programmed to make a formation in the sky creating a QR code that was scannable from the ground. This was first done by a Japanese gaming company in April 2021. it linked to a game download.
  • World’s Largest QR Code It was created from a wheat field on 15th April 2015 in Cangzhou, Hebel, China. It was 36,100 square meters (388,577 square feet) with each side measuring 190 meters.
  • QR Code Corn MazeEvery year the Kraay Family Farm in Lacombe, Alberta, makes a QR code Corn Maze—they used to hold the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest QR code. This year their QR codes corn maze features an insulin bottle to generate awareness for Type One Diabetes. Check it out here.

Quick Recap

QR codes are a type of link that, when scanned using your mobile device Camera app, can take you to a web page. Scanning QR codes using mobile devices has become a convenient way to access information quickly.

Gluu FAQ

How do you use a QR code?
Your Camera app has a built-in QR Code reader. Open your camera app, and point your camera at the QR code from any direction. You do not have to take a picture, just point the camera at the QR code and wait a second for a window to appear on your screen. Tap on anywhere on that window to be taken to a webpage.

Do you need a special app to scan a QR code?
No. You don’t need a special app to scan a QR code. Mobile devices have QR code scanners built into their Camera apps.

Make It Stick

#1 Next time you are at your favourite restaurant, store, or thumbing through a magazine, try scanning a QR code and navigating the webpage it sends you to. See what kind of information you find and how far you can go through this site.

#2 If you see a QR code for a Wi-Fi connection at a location you trust, use it to connect to their public Wi-Fi immediately.

Search Phrases to Use for This Topic

Remember, when you search online, there is no need to capitalize letters. Here are some search phrases to try if you want to learn more.

  • what are qr codes
  • wiki qr code (to see Wikipedia results for QR codes)
  • qr code art (tap on Images when you get to the search results page to see all the different types of QR Code art)
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Linda Fawcus • Gluu Society Founder

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