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It’s a question we hear more and more often in addition to being one of the hottest buzzwords in marketing today. As with any new technology, however, people are left with little understanding of what they are fully capable of and how they can be used to improve the flow of information.

QR codes are, in essence, barcodes. However, they can hold a great deal of information. They were invented by Japanese company Denso-wave in 1994, but with the advent of smartphones with built-in QR readers and the use of QR codes as a marketing tool, they’ve exploded in popularity.

QR Code exampleA QR code looks like this:

You’ve probably seen them in various places: posters, stickers, and they’re even starting to appear on food packaging and other retail labels. For now, most QR codes generally lead to a URL (a website address) so that when you scan it with your phone it takes you to a website.

However, QR codes are capable of much more.

To begin with, QR codes are highly resistant to errors (they have built-in error correction). They also are far more capable than merely holding URL information. There are many different data types that can be encoded to QR; for example, hotels can use them to instantly communicate wireless access data to phones (no more typing in crazy Wi-fi passwords). A QR code on a business card can contain a vCard (contact information),  it can contain event information—you scan a code and have an entire event calendar automatically added for you, and more. A QR code can contain an SMS with phone number and automatically added text, so that you can have people more easily participate in contests and promotions (“Text PEPSI to 99999 to enter”, and so forth.)

QR codes can be included on retail packaging and food labels as well. You can scan a code and get geographical location—such as a restaurant brochure having a QR code that automatically adds the location to the phone’s GPS system. Or nutrition information. The possibilities are quite limitless, and will only expand as application developers come up with new and creative ways to use QR information.

As a manufacturer of custom labels and flexible packaging for our clients, we are on the ground floor of the new world of getting QR codes printed. We’re excited to see some of the creative ways our clients implement this exciting mobile technology.

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