QR Codes

qrcode qrcode

I know this is old news for some – I remember seeing these at least six months ago and I was intrigued by them then. I gave the QR Code the good ol’ Luddite taste test (see how the gf reacts to it) and was pleasantly surprised with the response.

QR Codes are a Japanese invention and once you hear what it is you will probably let out a “of course” like I did when I first grasped its concept. Under my previous employer I got to do a lot of work with bar codes. The basic idea behind bar codes is to get computers to be able to read print without sophisticated optical character recognition (OCR) software. It’s also far less prone to error.

So, when you’ve got a guy at a terminal who needs to input thirty-five digit alphnumeric codes off of labels into a computer with five nines of accuracy, bar codes make life a lot easier for everyone involved. When they were first created, lasers (pew pew) were used to scan a strip of vertical black lines of varying width which would carry the encoded information.

It’s a great system, except you need a lot of infrastructure to get it to be practical. Enter QR Codes. The world now has a great deal more underutilized infrastructure, among which we could easily count the fact that you now have to specify it if you want your cell phone to come without a camera (usually for security purposes, see AT&T Wireless 8900). When was the last time you heard someone say, “Oh, I wish my phone had a camera.” Right?

So, boys and girls, what is one of the coolest things we can do with all these handheld camera computers everyone carries with them everywhere they go? Turn them into barcode readers of course!

I discovered i-nigma.com on Friday when I was trolling for the answer to a FixYa! problem I was trying to answer. I’ll have to write about FixYa! in another post. The FixYa! problem deal with installing a piece of software on a Windows Mobile handset. I googled to freewarepocketpc.net, a great site with a great self-descriptive domain name. I found the software I was looking for and when I went to the download page, I found a QR Code there. The caption for the image said something like, “don’t recognize this image?”

Intrigued I looked into it and found i-nigma, a company making mobile QR Code reader apps. They also have a little QR Code generator that will make you a QR Code with your contact information, a URL, SMS, or encoded message. Basically, the QR Code will have data and meta-data encoded on it, like a subject and a verb. i-nigma will let you encode some data and then assign a type to that data. Like, “send a text message.” So when I use the mobile app on my phone to scan a QR Code, it pops the data and a button with an action, like “Call Tom.”

I haven’t been this excited about a tech for a while. I know what I’m doing at lunch today!

So I’m throwing my weight behind this format and I’m going to try it on a larger scale. Now I just need to find a good adhesive paper for my printer so I can make some stickers…

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