QR codes are starting to pop up in more and more places. From outdoor billboards (see the image at right) to Twitter avatars to magazine ads, the proliferation of smartphones is helping fuel a huge increase in QR codes.
So what exactly are QR codes? In short, QR codes are 2D barcodes that contain embedded information – a website URL, contact information, a link to a Twitter account or other information about a product or service. You can scan a QR code by using a QR reader on your smartphone or iPod Touch. I like ScanLife (a free download for Blackberry, Android, iOS and Windows Phones) as it allows you to scan QR codes as well as standard barcodes, but there are dozens of free and paid QR scanners out there. I actually scanned the standard barcode on a children’s book the other day and it brought me to an info page that talked about the book and gave me links to purchase the book online.
Arkansas’s Tourism office started utilizing QR codes in their 2010 Tour Guide and in print ads this year. If you scan the QR code embedded in their ad (click for a larger version), you’ll be redirected to a page on Arkansas Tourism’s website that gives you more information about things to do and places to go in The Natural State. In fact, if you look through Arkansas’ 2010 Tour Guide (and presumably their 2011 guide) there are QR codes sprinkled throughout that give the reader more information about the page they’re reading – an excellent way to extend the print experience to online.
Another great example is this Ryan Adams concert poster. If you scan the QR code, it brings you to a landing page where you can download a free live version of one of his songs and it also features a link to buy tickets to Ryan Adams concerts through TicketMaster.
Those are just a handful of examples of how some companies are starting to use QR codes to extend users’ experience from print or outdoor to the web. Smartphones and QR codes can offer businesses the ability to provide more and more targeted information to consumers in spaces that are traditionally space-limited like outdoor advertising, signage or print ads.
There are even people who have started putting QR codes on their business cards. Simply scan the code and you can easily add the person’s contact info to your address book. That’s so much easier than coming back from a conference and having to manually add dozens of business cards into your contact list. In fact, if you scan the QR code on the left, you can add my contact information to your address book.
Have you seen any interesting examples of QR codes?