Introducing the QR code

The QR is a form of bar code and can store a lot of data that’s easy to access.

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A QR code is a two dimensional bar code that’s readable by smartphones and is an advanced version of the current bar code, arguably the most under-utilised code around, with huge untapped potential. QR technology was invented by the Denso Wave company (a subsidiary of Toyota) in 1994. And the codes were used to track car parts in Japan in a very similar way courier companies track packages through the delivery process.

When scanned this QR code will take your browser to the Farmer's Weekly website.QR codes can store information in two directions (hence the 2D designation). Furthermore, unlike the standard bar code, they can be rapidly scanned from any angle within a 360° radius in a fraction of the time a bar code is scanned.
Other advantages include:

  • High capacity storage of portable information in a small area (200 times more than a conventional bar code) and a 30-fold increase in recording ability.
  • Dirt and damage resistant – the code can be read even if it’s partly damaged. 
  • Warp resistant – the code can be placed on ‘warped’ surfaces on packaging, for example.
  • Saves ink and space.
  • As an advertisement, it’s less intrusive for the reader.

How they work
Most cellphones can read a QR code once you’ve downloaded the relevant application (app). Numerous free apps that work well on most phones are available. To scan a code, open the QR app and point your phone at the code. You’ll see the code on your phone’s screen. Wait a while for the phone to scan the code.

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What it does
Once the code’s been scanned, software deciphers the encrypted information and initiates a response. This may involve directing you to a website or phone, downloading an MP3 or some other action, depending on the description accompanying the code. Scanning the code costs nothing. However, since some codes have a web link to prompt mobile browsing, you’ll need to confirm the access cost with your communications provider. Numerous websites allow you to create a custom QR code for free. Here’s one you can try:

The world’s largest QR code is 28 760m² and was created by the Kraay Family Farm, in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada, on 24 July 2012.