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A QR or Quick Response code is a two-dimensional bar code. Other than Japan, where the QR codes were first introduced and are widely used, its uses have proliferated even in Australia and United States of America. The case analyses the QR codes more widely and also the recent success they are enjoying in the recent years. It also discusses the potentials it has and various fields where it can be of use. Finally the case discusses about the drawbacks of the QR codes.
Denso Corporation is a global automotive components manufacturer established in December 16, 1949. It was initially known as Nippon Denso Co. Ltd. Denso is a member of the Toyota group of companies and is also the patent holder of QR codes. They are one of the leading companies for providing the technology, system and components for the world's major automobile companies. Quick Response code was developed by Denso Wave back in 1994. They mainly focus on development, manufacturing and sales of automatic data capture equipment, industrial robots, programmable controllers and other apparatus and systems.
Bar code is an optical machine readable representation of data which shows the information on the products. It was discovered by Bernard Silver in 1948. It is known as linear or 1D codes since it represented the data in form of widths and parallel lines. It can also be known as 2 Dimensional matrix code or symbologies which are represented in the pattern of dots, squares or other geometric patterns. Even though there were many other codes, 1-Dimensional bar codes were the most popular ones. The main reasons for their popularity were their specific characteristics like fast reading speed, accuracy, and superior functionality. The bar code was originally started to represent the railroad cars. But as their popularity increased they were being used even as automated checkouts in the supermarkets.
The most popular among the different types of bar codes was the Universal Product Code or UPC. It is a specific type of bar code used for tracking the trade item in the shops. It is the UPC which started the extensive use of the bar codes since it was used in almost all the products by the stores. Later the use of bar codes increased from products to even in the hospital to keep tracks of the patients' identification for the later use.
Even though they were being recognized universally the need for better codes was arising. The code which could store more information, more character type and that would take only a small space when printed. In attempt to make the codes better various efforts were being taken like increasing the number of the bar code digit or even increasing the number of layers. But all these attempts failed. They caused a number of issues like the area for the bar code had to be increased, the reading operations were more complicated and also the cost of printing the code increased. As a result the 2D codes were introduced.
Multiple bar code layout
2D Code with stacked bar codes (stacked bar code type)
2D Code (matrix type)
At the beginning, the 2D codes were also stacked bar codes which did not give much information either. It was no better than the old bar codes. More attempts were made. As a result finally these 2D stacked codes have been modified into the matrix form known as QR code. The QR codes stores more information with less storage space requirement. The QR codes contain the data both horizontally and vertically whereas the Bar codes contain information only horizontally.
QR codes allow much superior amount of raw data than any other regular barcodes. It can be numeric, alphanumeric or binary information - of which up to 2953 bytes can be stored. Only a part of each QR bar code contains actual data, including inaccuracy improvement information.
An Introduction to QR codes
Denso Wave introduced the QR codes in order to make it easy to track parts while manufacturing the vehicles. It is used to make any product unique. QR codes are often used for adding web links to a printed page. The user can simply launch the application and get the information required. When such a QR bar code is scanned using a web cam or mobile phone camera, the QR reader application connects you to a Web site, a YouTube video or some other web content. Unlike other 2D symbologies like 3-DI, Array Tag, CP code, the QR codes do not need any type of license. The users of the QR codes are free to be using it.
In QR codes there are small dots called modules. It is advised to have empty area around the graphic which would make it simpler for the devices to read the codes which implies for other codes as well which is known as quiet area. This quiet area is ideally 4 modules wide.
The lowest amount size of a QR code depends upon the resolving power of the cameras that are used to scan the code. Kaywa white paper, recommends using minimum size of 32 Ã- 32 mm or 1.25 Ã- 1.25 inches, apart from quiet zone, for QR codes that hold a URL. It makes sure that all camera phones on the marketplace can properly read the bar code. Changing the size to a width and height of 26 Ã- 26 mm or roughly 1 square inch still covers 90% of the phones on the market. The latest camera models, which have improved macro capabilities, can however already deal with QR codes that are less than 10 mm (0.4â€³) wide and high.
In order to get accurate results from the barcodes there should be a good contrast between the background and the bar color. The bar code should have a shady color on a light background. If the background needs to be in color, it should be made sure that it is a solid color, not a screened shade. 100% yellow background should work fine. Very light Pantone colors might also work, as long as the contrast with the bar code is high enough.
QR Code- Today
Any company can make their own QR code and use it wherever their imaginations lead them. The only caveat is that mobile users who want to interact with the code must have software on their phone that can utilize the camera to read the code. Due to this, in many countries these days mobile phones are being implemented with QR as standard software on phones.
QR Code has become a chief instrument to assist the handling of mobile data services. QR Codes help to enhance the mobile commerce and mobile content sales. QR codes provide a vital information input and output tool, and are facilitating the growth of the mobile economy. It is an important aspect for mobile communication professionals worldwide, who need to be in touch with the state-of-the-art of mobile phone design, mobile phone applications for commerce and content sale, mobile marketing, and advertising targeting mobile users.
The Technological breakthrough
QR code has been around for a long time but has been slow in gaining popularity. There are many well known companies which has started using the QR codes. The main use of QR code is mobile tagging. QR codes contain mostly all types of information, such as text, phone numbers or even an e-mail address. For example if a business card has a QR code on it, then it provides the contact information is the electronic version.
The basic advantages of QR codes are that it transfers the user from printed to online information quickly and save the necessary information for the later use making it easier for the user. The QR codes can be used anywhere from billboards to post cards.
Two new buttons recently appeared on Facebook entitled, "View QR Barcode" and "Generate status QR barcode," below selected Facebook profile pictures.
The Northwest Airlines Japan enjoys the application of the QR codes at its best. The QR codes were affixed to the giant billboards around the cities in Japan. People could take the photo of the code and get connected to the website of the company directly which created a rage and made it popular as technologically forward company.
Similarly Pepsi has also started its campaign using the QR codes in 2009 in United Kingdom. They printed the codes in 400 million cans which would lead the user to the specially designed websites with wallpapers, ringtones etc.
QR codes are also widely being used in various industries for various purposes. It is being used in many to make the connection between the location and the information. A game called QR-Kill is a real-world game where players "kill" one another by taking photos of the other's QR codes, which they wear on their backs.
The use of QR codes has moved even to the guide plans. thedrum an online news site has reported on 16th April, 2010 that Glasgow has implemented the QR codes. The visitors can download the architectural tours of Glasgow directly to their mobile phones and get the information easily.
QR Code trial to be implemented in Glasgow
A trial will be held by the Mackintosh Heritage Group in Glasgow, allowing visitors to Glasgow to take park in using QR Codes to download architectural tours of Glasgow direct to mobile phones.
Along with these, there have been different ways in which QR codes has been utilized by the technology leaders. The QR codes have been capturing its attention from Film industry, music, YouTube to even in education sector and environment awareness campaigns.
Reading QR Code
To read a hard link or physical world hyperlink, a Smartphone or computer equipped with a web cam needs to have the correct reader software. It will interpret the scanned image and launch a browser to visit the programmed URL. One can also do a web search using the keywords "QR reader" and the maker of your phone finds such applications.
Some interesting links to read the QR codes are:
QR readers for the iPhone: iphones have iMatrix v4.0 which supports the reading of the QR codes, Datamatrix, etc. The application can also open a website, add contacts in the address book, add events in the calendar etc.
The Kaywa Reader: The mobile phone user can simply click on the link on the website and the application will be downloaded. The other alternative is to plug in the USB cable and do it in the computer.
QR codes are being commonly used due to its high benefits. The most important of all is the fact that the QR codes are free, they charge no cost. Another benefit of the QR code is its ease of use. The user of the QR code just has to download the reader and start the application unlike other codes available. The linear code for example PDF417 needs a scanner which has to be downloaded in the computers to uncover it which is not preferred by the commoners. Another benefit of the QR code over its competitors can be its mobility and portability. The QR code users can use the cell phones they carry everyday to get the details from the code which is not possible in case of other codes. QR code is accessible anytime anywhere, all the user needs is the mobile phone with camera and the reader in it. For other codes, it cannot be done as easily as this. They need a computer and a scanner for reading the code. Its instant gratification is also one of its features which make it better than any other code.
The storage capacity of QR code is also much more than it's other competitors like PDF417 or Datamatrix. The QR codes maximum numeric data capacity is 7089 characters whereas PDF417 is 2710 and that of Datamatrix is 3110 characters. Unlike other bar code QR code carries data both horizontally and vertically as it is a matrix code thus saving more information in a small size.
Symbol Technologies (USA)
RVSI Acuity CiMatrix (USA)
Stacked Bar Code
Large capacity, small printout size
High speed scan
Small printout size
High speed scan
The comparison between different codes
Even though QR code has many benefits there are few issues that have tagged along with it. The major issue is the slow internet connection in mobile phone which is more expensive than the internet connection in computer. The software sometimes does not work properly for all the QR codes. Just having the cell phones with camera is not enough; the camera should be good enough to capture the code properly. The cameras with less mega pixel cannot capture the code well which becomes blurry and the code cannot be generated with such image. They have inconsistent size and they all don't look the same. The location of the code is also very important. If there is a shadow over the code or it does not have proper lighting, the code cannot be generated with ease.
Thus it can be concluded that QR codes in spite of its minor issues are one of the best and recent codes that are being used. Even though QR code has not been able to capture the market and become popular as traditional bar code, it will eventually trigger the market. It has the potential to gain more real time demand. The future is certainly wide open and full of opportunities for QR Codes.
Despite being a technology with superior characteristics and functions, why hasn't QR code been able to capture larger market share?
How has the use of QR codes affected the market of the mobile phones and their functionality?