QR Codes Explained and How to Use Them

by Ross McKillop on October 29, 2012

Multimedia

This overview will explain QR Codes and what you can do with them, how to read them, how to create your own and much more.

What is a QR Code?

A QR Code is a 2 dimensional image (see example below) that contains data.

a QR Code that links to www.simplehelp.net

You’ve probably seen them “in the wild” – they’re showing up in North America more and more often in ads, on products, even tee-shirts.

examples of QR codes being used in public places

What can I do with QR Codes?

This is where it gets fun. Since a QR code contains data, you can create images that when scanned with a phone or other device (we’ll get to that in the next section) – that data can be used by your device. For example, if you scan the QR code above, it will prompt you to visit http://www.simplehelp.net on your devices Web Browser. See the more detailed section below on the other things you can do with QR Codes.

How to I scan a QR Code?

If you have a mobile phone, you can probably scan QR codes. Here’s a list of tutorials for scanning QR codes using free software on various smartphones:

  • How to Read QR Codes with Your iPhone
  • How to Read QR Codes with Your Android device
  • How to Read QR Codes on Your Nokia N95
  • How to Read QR Codes on Your Blackberry
  • How to Create Your Own QR Code

    The easiest way is to use an online QR Code Generator. There are lots of them – a few of my favorites are:

    1. kaywa – for very simple QR Codes
    2. QR Stuff – for much more advanced QR Codes
    3. QR Code Generator – a Google Chrome Plugin that allows to to generate QR codes of web page content

     

    The Longer List of Cool Stuff You Can Do With QR Codes

    If you visited a few of the sites listed above (particularly QR Stuff), you’ll have already seen that you can do very cool things with QR codes. If you have a web site, you can integrate it with QR Codes in some very neat ways. You can create cool landing pages for your website (scan the QR Code below for mine!), automatically add QR Codes to printed versions of your site and even add ‘auto-generated’ QR codes for people to bookmark your site – as seen in the sidebar of every page here :)

    a QR Code that links to a custom landing page for simplehelp
    Custom Landing Page for Simplehelp.net