If Quick Response (QR) codes have escaped your notice, you’re not alone. They’re the odd patterns within square boxes like the one above that are the equivalent of a scannable bar code, and while they’re being used more frequently all the time, most people don’t recognize them or their usefulness. They contain digitized information, usually a URL for a website that will give you more information, a link to great deals, or some other marketing materials.
If you’re thinking that you don’t have a scanner, you’re probably wrong. Most smartphones have the ability to quickly QR codes, but they require an app to decode them. I use Quick Scan, free on iTunes, which scans both bar and QR codes but you have load different versions for each. I’ve also used QuickMark, which costs $3.99, and works fine but I couldn’t find it easily among all of my apps. If I forget where I left Quick Scan, I can find it fast with a search of “scan”, which didn’t work for QuickMark.
To give you a example of how QR can be useful for the traveler, I had the opportunity to visit a display of European art at a museum in Brisbane, Australia a couple of years ago. Each of the painting had a brief description, along with a QR code, that took the user quickly to an information page on a website with incredible information about the painter, the historical period, and the painting itself. It was quick and convenient, and made the visit far more meaningful.
You’ll see the codes in stores, museums, magazines, on products, and just about anywhere there are printed materials. After you’ve used them a few times you’ll get a sense of when they’re likely to be useful. In my case, I’ve learned that the codes on the back of a Heinz catsup bottle don’t hold much interest for me. Museums, in-flight or any magazine on your favorite topic will have more useful ones. Happy scanning.