QR Codes – Decoding the Box

I made a minor discovery this morning before starting work in the studio. Something quite interesting, geeky and possibly useful too. It reminded me of some random time in my childhood, spent making codes with my school-friends that only we could read… Then trying to crack the ones that another group of friends had made.

QR Codes. A QR Code is a two-dimensional bar code displayed in a square box. It was created by a Japanese corporation in 1994. QR stands for Quick Response. The creator wanted the code to allow its message to be decoded at high speed. It certainly works, at least it does now.

So what’s the point of it and what does it do?

Well to put it simply – you can encode a message of varying kind into a QR Block (Is that a word? It is now!) The block can then be scanned and the message decoded. The thing that really tweaked my interest is of course that up until recently you would have required some kind of scanning gadget to read the code. Today we can use pretty much any smart-phone that has a camera and an available QR Code reader.

The above QR Code is a URL. Actually it’s the URL to this very page.

Here’s an iTunes link to what is probably the best QR Code reader / creator for the iPhone – It’s called Optiscan.


Optiscan has a few extra features too. You can also produce as well as read various different types of QR Codes and then mail them and share them.

There are a few different standard QR Code types. They can be URL specific for example, a URL will automatically be recognised as a URL and can then be opened automatically. Phone numbers will be auto-dialled. Contacts – added. SMS Sent. etc.

I also found that they can be shrunk down quite nicely as long as they are not anti-aliased. I have now added a small section to my email signature.

Look out for them – You’ll notice that various companies and TV channels, games etc. are starting to use these clever little beasties. Especially now that they realise that the general public (that’s you and me) can actually decode them easily.

If you do manage to get hold of a QR Code scanner – Check this out.

Thanks for reading.