I recently saw a picture of mFriday members in their mFriday t-shirts and the first thing I noticed about the t-shirts’ unique design is the QR Code found on the front. This got me to thinking “What is really a QR Code?”, “If I was asked what a QR Code was, what would I say?” I, thus, decided to do some rigorous research on the subject. Of course, by rigorous research I mean look it up on Wikipedia. After reading, I decided to share the following facts.
(1) QR Code is an abbreviation.
You might have thought QR Code was some fancy name that was made up by some cool tech dudes but it is actually an abbreviation for Quick Response Code. The abbreviation is sometimes confused as Quadratic Residue Code which is another kettle of fish altogether. A QR Code is actually a two-dimensional code consisting of black modules or square dots arranged in a square pattern on a white background.
(2) QR Code was invented in Japan.
Yes, Japan. It was invented by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994. It was then used to track vehicles during the manufacturing process and was designed to allow its contents to be decoded at a high speed. Unlike the old bar code that was designed to be mechanically scanned by a narrow beam of light, the QR code is detected as a 2-dimensional digital image and is then digitally analyzed by a programmed processor. The processor locates the three distinctive squares at the corners of the image, and normalizes image size, orientation, and angle of viewing, with the aid of a smaller square near the fourth corner. The small dots are then converted to binary numbers and validity checked with an error-correcting code.
(3) QR Codes increase conversion rates.
The use of QR Codes has become more of an advertising strategy because of its ability to increase conversion rates. Conversion rate here implies the chance that contact with an advertisement will convert to a sale. QR Codes storing addresses and URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) may appear in magazines, on signs or even on business cards. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR Code to display text, contact information or open a web page in the telephone’s browser. The ad viewer initially had to type the URL, and often did not have a web browser in front of them at the moment they viewed the ad. The chances were high that they would forget to visit the site later, not bother to type a URL, or forget what URL to type. With the QR Code, an advert viewer needs only reach for their phone, at the moment of ad contact, rather than remember to type it into a PC later.
(4) QR Code is free of any license.
Denso Wave owns the patent rights on QR Codes, but has chosen not to exercise them.
Thus, the use of QR Codes is free of any license. Yaay! Help me say a big thank you for sharing to Denso. The word QR Code itself is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated. The QR Code is clearly defined and published as an ISO standard. However, the word QR CODE is a separate trademark assigned to King Estate Winery Limited.
(5) QR Codes can be malicious.
Malicious QR Codes are easily created and may be affixed over legitimate QR Codes. On a smartphone, the reader’s many permissions may allow use of the camera, full internet access, read/write contact data, GPS, read browser history and read/write local storage. Risks involved in reading QR Codes include linking to dangerous websites with browser exploits, enabling the microphone/camera/GPS and then streaming those feeds to a remote server and analysis of sensitive data such as passwords, files, contacts, transactions. These actions may occur in the background while the user only sees the reader opening a seemingly harmless webpage. In Russia, a malicious QR Code caused phones that scanned it to send premium texts at a fee of USD$6 each.
So there you have it. Five facts on the subject of QR Codes you can add to your already existing ammo. Thanks to Wikipedia, I can walk around confidently in my mFriday t-shirt and answer any questions I’m asked about the QR code in front.