What is a QR code? A guide to the barcode’s basics, why you’re seeing it everywhere, and how to scan one

QR Code for plane ticket

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You’ve probably noticed a square barcode pasted to a graffitied light pole or on the back of a business card. 

That pixelated code, shaped in a square, is called a QR code. They help you download apps, give you contactless access to a restaurant’s menu, can be found on marketing billboards, and on websites or social media to promote items and deals. 

Despite being a mid-90s invention, the QR code didn’t gain real momentum until the era of smartphones. Mobile devices allowed the digital mark to be used in more dynamic and diverse ways, making it an easy — and in the era of a pandemic, contactless — way to connect to and share information. 

Here’s what you need to know about QR codes.

What is a QR code?

Invented in 1994 by Masahiro Hara, chief engineer of Denso Wave, a Japanese company and subsidiary of Toyota, the QR code was initially used to track vehicles and parts as they moved through the manufacturing process. 

Short for Quick Response, QR codes are a type of barcode easily readable with digital devices like smartphones. They store information as a series of pixels in a square grid that can be read in two directions — top to bottom and right to left — unlike standard barcodes that can only be read top to bottom. 

QR codes can store about 7,000 digits or around 4,000 characters, including punctuation and special characters. It can also encode information like phone numbers or internet addresses. The arrangement of each QR code varies depending on the information it contains, and that changes the arrangement of its black modules. 

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When creating a code, you can add data to it, though it increases the code’s structure and makes it more complex, and even personalize them. Additionally, a QR code’s data structure contains duplicates, ensuring that even with 30% damage to the code, it will still be readable by a scanner. 

While the software used to generate QR codes doesn’t collect personal information from users, the location and time of a scan, the number of times a code is scanned, and the operating system of the device that performed the scan are all available to the code’s creators. 

Important: A QR code can’t be hacked, but a hacker can generate a malicious QR code that sends you to a fake website where they’ll steal your personal data and can track your location, so always try to verify where your QR code originated from.

Static vs. dynamic QR codes

QR codes vary in design depending on the encoded data and function, and can be categorized primarily in two ways: static and dynamic.

A static QR code cannot be modified once it has been created. This is ideal for creating QR codes in mass for an event. A drawback is its lack of creativity and that it may not allow for analytics on how many times the code may have been scanned. An example of a good static QR code would be one for your Wi-Fi password.

Dynamic QR codes allow you to change …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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