By now, you’ve probably noticed those funny-looking squares on web sites and in magazines, but do you know what they are and what to do with them? They’re called QR Codes (the abbreviation for Quick Response) and were originally used by Toyota to track auto parts used in manufacturing.¹ They’re a special type of barcode that can link to URLs, addresses, images and text. Barcodes only encode data horizontally, but QR codes encode data both horizontally and vertically in a grid of tiny squares. This allows for much more data to be encoded in a smaller space. QR codes can embed information in the code itself, and, when read with the proper software, can trigger actions like launching a website or downloading a file.²
Special smartphone apps are available for use with your phone or tablet’s camera and can be used for decoding. Search for “qr reader” at iTunes, the App Store, or Amazon.com for free apps for your device.