What is a QR Code

What is a QR Code?

A QR code is a square symbol consisting of black and white dots. “QR” is an abbreviation for “quick response”. To decipher the information hidden behind these 2-dimensional codes, you need the camera of your smartphone and a QR code scanner app, which you can get free of charge in your app store for iOS and Android. Searching for “QR” in the store gives you numerous free apps with which you can scan and decrypt QR codes.

The internationally recognized square code was developed by the Japanese company Denso Wave back in 1994. Originally, QR codes were intended to identify assemblies and components in the internal logistics of the car manufacturer Toyota. Comparable to the barcode, which today uniquely identifies numerous products - for example in the food sector. Compared to a barcode, a QR code offers significantly more capacity for encrypting information thanks to the 2-dimensional information encryption. Anyone can use QR codes as they are license-free and free of charge.

Structure and dimensions of a QR code

A QR code always has a square format. Three small squares at the corners serve as orientation for the scanner. Within the QR code, depending on the size and type of code, further small orientation squares can be included. A black and white code pattern, consisting of many squares lined up next to one another, encrypts the message it contains. A classic QR code has at least 21 × 21 and a maximum of 177 × 177 elements. This allows an information content of up to 23,648 bits (= 2,953 bytes) - or more clearly: 7,089 decimal digits or 4,296 alphanumeric characters - to be mapped. In the meantime, QR codes can also be displayed as micro QR codes with 11 × 11 and 17 × 17 elements, which then contain correspondingly less information.

For more technical information, see the Wikipedia article on the QR code.

What can a QR code be used for?

A QR code is often used today to encrypt an Internet address. In this way, the respective website operator can provide smartphone users in particular with easy access to his information offer: since the user does not have to laboriously enter the address into the Internet browser of his smartphone, the motivation to view the respective offer increases by simply scanning the smartphone app to visit. You can often find QR codes in magazines, newspapers, information sheets, posters and flyers. In addition to URLs, phone numbers, addresses, texts, vCards, access data, geodata or short messages can also be hidden in a QR code. This arouses curiosity and encourages you to decipher the respective secret behind QR codes.

Since QR codes are used or scanned with smartphones, in particular, it makes sense in this case to branch to a website that has been optimized for smartphones. In 2017 you still stumble across unprofessional, non-responsive websites that are referred to by QR code. Try it out yourself and scan the QR codes printed in newspapers or magazines - over 50% of these pages are not optimally adapted to mobile devices. Instead, the desktop version of the website appears and nothing can be seen on the smartphone, as the website elements are tiny and usually also displayed shifted. This raises the question of the usefulness of these QR codes. A mobile website, also known as a web app, can help here. With the ON AIR app construction kit, you can create a free web app that displays your information in the best possible way for smartphones.

Since mobile internet usage is now well over 50%, you should perhaps also think about a "real" app, which is also available in the app stores of Apple iOS and Google’s Android. Here, too, the modular system of the ON AIR Appbuilder offers you great possibilities to create your own app for your business, for your club, for your event or for many other purposes.

The possible uses of QR codes are almost limitless. They are not only used for advertising, but refer to special events or competitions and have recently also been used on business cards, T-shirts or as stickers on the car. QR Codes are becoming increasingly popular because they are free, easy to create and accompanied by an innovative character.

Examples of the use of a QR code

QR codes are particularly suitable as a supplementary element in public advertising in the areas of service and retail. In Japan, on the other hand, QR codes are also used to identify files and documents. Airlines enable check-in with the QR code, travel agencies and tour operators like to use it to draw attention to certain sights. Music providers and record labels offer exclusive downloads or invite you to events. In Germany, a shoe retail chain campaign will be launched in spring 2017 and a billboard will be equipped with a digital sales shelf. In addition to each pair of shoes shown, the purchase could be made directly via a QR code, the payment was processed through PayPal with the QR shopping app. In Europe, consideration is currently being given to using the QR code for the simplified processing of transfers in order to make it easier for customers to use it.

Other possible uses of a QR code can be:

  • Reference to your own app including a link to download
  • Link to YouTube videos or your own YouTube channel
  • Link to mobile-optimized landing pages
  • Send preset SMS
  • Send preset tweet
  • Call up your social media profile on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook
  • Call phone number
  • Send contact details to the user as a vCard

Can a marketing campaign with QR code also be of interest to you?

As already mentioned, the possibilities for which a QR code can be used are very versatile. For example, to promote your own app, a QR code is ideal and also enables simplified access for your users.

In any case, a professional approach is necessary when using the QR code so that the marketing campaign has the desired effect. If you use a QR code within your own marketing, it should not only simply lead to your website, but users expect a mobile-optimized presentation of the respective offer. Ideally, your own app from the respective app store is hidden behind the QR code - but at least a web app optimized for smartphones.

You can create both easily and inexpensively with the ON AIR App Builder and the offers in your app can be updated quickly and without additional costs.

Where can you create a QR code?

When you create your mobile website or app with the ON AIR app construction kit, you will automatically receive the appropriate QR code and can then use it to distribute your app.

In addition, there are now numerous websites on which you can create a free QR code. Goqr.me is an example at this point. Simply enter your website and the corresponding QR code will be available for download directly. In addition, there are numerous other websites where you can order promotional items (e.g. stickers, mugs, t-shirts, etc.) printed with the created QR code.