The picture on the left is called a QR Code – short for a Quick Response code. You’ve probably started to see more and more of these around town. Largely as part of some advertising campaign – maybe in the bottom corner of a print ad or on a banner at your local retailer. It’s an efficient way to encode up to a little over 4,000 characters. The QR code has its origins in the Japanese automotive industry in the mid-90s where it was used to track parts. Since it was designed for rapid decoding (image to text or a numeric value), it logically grew into applicability with smartphones. A mobile device with a camera and some processing power can rapidly convert these images for useful purposes.
The problem is that it has been a slow adoption process. The market research firm, Comscore, estimates that only 6.2% of smartphone users are making use of this. Largely, folks are scanning them at home. I suspect that the lack of use publicly is due to a social stigma. I think the younger generations will more openly hold their phone and capture the image using their QR Reader app than the digital immigrant generations. It’s actually a great way to capture bookmarks for websites or other information quickly. Why don’t you take this opportunity to practice – take out your smartphone and take a take a quick scan of the image on this post. I’d suggest bookmarking it. Of course, if you’re reading this on your smartphone, I’d like to see a pic of you scanning the image…maybe use your smartphone’s camera.