The Invasion of QR Codes from Print to Technology

QR (Quick Response) codes have been around for a long time, coming up to 20 years and they have had an astronomical increase of usage within the past few years – thanks to the increase in popularity of smartphones, and QR scanner and reader apps being distributed for free for pretty much all different types of smartphone device; the iPhone, Android devices etc.

QR codes were first invented by Denso Wave Inc, in Japan, for use in car manufacturing plants to track car parts to be used in the manufacturing process. This was way back in 1999. It took a while for them to get to the mainstream, but as soon as they did they took off in a huge way.

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A QR code is a 2 dimensional barcode, which can be scanned faster than a regular barcode, as well as hold more information than a regular barcode, so it’s got many more uses. It can hold up to 7,089 numeric characters or 4,296 alphanumeric characters.

Here’s the short history of QR codes, from creation through to today:

    1994: Quick Response code was invented by Denso Wave for use in their car manufacturing plants 
              to track inventory.
    2000: The first smartphone device (R380) was released by Ericsson, it had no-where near the same
              capabilities as smartphones of today, but it was a crucial step in the rise of the QR code.
    2001: Palm released the first mobile phone capable of browsing the internet – another crucial step in
             the rise of the QR code.
    2010: The first QR code reader and scanner apps were released for a number of smartphones,
              including the iPhone and Andriod phones. During 2010 the number of QR code scans
              increased by over 1200% in just 3 months.
    2011: QR codes really start to take off, thanks to huge campaigns being run by large companies     
             such as Tesco and Best Buy.
    2012: Another great year for QR codes, their popularity increased even further and their usage
             taken to new levels with things like Virtual Shopping Stores & Windows.
    2013: Who knows what’s in-store for QR codes this year, the astronomical rise it’s had already  
             shows no sign of slowing down. I’m sure we’ll see some more advancements in QR code
             usage throughout this year.

As you can see, it wasn’t until 2010 that QR codes first really impacted on the public/consumer market, and they have grown significantly since then. It's only been 3 years and now I see them everywhere, printed on products in supermarkets, printed on business vans and cars, printed on business cards and flyers, printed on advertisements in magazines and newspapers – they are turning up all over the place.

QR code compressed

Here’s a few interesting facts about QR codes and just how much interaction they get from us:

I guess Apple played a huge part in bringing the QR code to the public domain, if it wasn’t for the iPhone then QR codes might never of taken off as big as they did. When you consider that over 68% of QR codes scanned are scanned with an iPhone.

Apple recently left the NFC feature off of it’s iPhone 5 (despite lots of other companies including it) and it looks like NFC is dead in the water now, I bet if Apple had included NFC in the iPhone 5 then it would be much more popular than it is now.

Author Bio: The author of this article has worked in design and marketing for over 10 years. He recommends that you use VisuaLead for all of your visual qr code creations.

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