This is your place to hear about social media trends. It is my objective as a young professional to cover all topics that are important to the world of social networks for a personal, professional, and corporate standpoint. Please feel free to interject, disagree, argue, scold, and even possibly praise my posts for I don't claim to know everything about anything, but I guarantee that I will try to have something to say about everything.

Monday, July 25, 2011

QR Codes: Creating the Link Between Physical and Digital

A week or so ago I went on a spur and created QR codes for every webpage remotely connected to me; LinkedIn, AboutMe, Twitter, Facebook, and my other blog Everyday Dude Food on which I took a short post to explain in a very simple, quick, and ultimately inefficient way my limited understanding of what QR codes are. With this post however I am back to explain in a little greater detail, and hopefully more accuracy, what these little increasingly popular black and white boxes are and what function they serve.

Wiki defines QR codes as…

“a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QRbarcode readers and camera telephones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background.”

… this of course without further research meant nothing to me so I began to dive deeper and finally landed with the following definition…

“A QR code is a two dimensional barcode that holds the function of being a visual representation for specified information that can only be deciphered using specialized scanners or with special downloadable apps for smartphones, connecting the physical world with the digital world.”

…this definition can be broken down further into several parts; two dimensional barcodes, specified information, and connecting physical and digital worlds. In the following I break down these three pieces just a little further.

Two dimensional barcodes. Basically a QR code is the same thing as the barcodes that you encounter in the grocery store on that can of soup you love to buy, but there is one major, and quite obvious, difference. While regular barcodes look like this

QR codes have the trait of holding information not only across their horizontal axis, but also vertically. This second dimension added to the code allows for greater amounts of information to be held within those tiny black and white squares, making the QR code a better choice for those trying to maximize the bang for their buck or scan because they can hold not only more, but more varied amounts of information and actions. Which brings me to the next piece of the above definition, “specified information”

Specified Information. From what I have read, it seems that QR codes can do nearly anything. You can create a QR code that simply displays listed information when scanned, or generate one that causes an action to be taken. This action can be to navigate to a certain webpage or even to dial a phone number contained in QR’s sequence.

This is astonishing to me, but I wonder if it should be? With the current programming capabilities that allow us to create factories that can totally run themselves, raw material to finished product, it seems that the only limit to the two dimensional code is its 4,300 alphanumeric character max which I have no clue if that is a small or large amount when it comes to programing, but it is obviously enough to link the world around us into the world behind our computer screens.

Linking the Physical and Digital Worlds. This to me is an amazing accomplishment. Taking an actual physical objects and creating pathways into the digital information about them. I am unsure why, but it reminds me of A Wrinkle In Time, and being able to “tesseract” between different dimensions, and is almost as amazing…almost. I guess however a more accurate comparison would be how in The Matrix humans are able to transport between the physical world and “the matrix” or a digital representation of the real world... but I digress.

This ability to link the physical world with the digital world has untold applications and serves as a great opportunity for marketing and operations experts alike creating an easy path for customers to find information, contact producers, give feedback, and much more. If you are interested in some good marketing applications I found this good post on FastCompany and am sure there are many, many more available if you look.

Needless to say, QR codes are pretty cool and I would advise you all to expect to see more and more of them being that they are so damn useful and efficient. However, and this may just be me being optimistic and excited, but I want to know what the next step is. If QR codes connect products into the digital world, how long will it be until we are rolling around on light cycles down the streets of Tron? Again, maybe just me, but a guy can dream.

1 comment:

  1. Good explanation. You caught an old dinosaur like me up to speed!