Visitors to this year’s Gamescom, Europe’s largest video gaming event, found themselves greeted by the unusual sight of a promoter wearing a QR code on his head, as Forbes revealed. Quick Response Codes, originally designed by Toyota subsidiary DENSO in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, seem to be popping up everywhere these days. In the two decades since their introduction, these convenient codes have been incorporated into every area of our lives, accompanying us from the cradle to the grave.
QR Codes and E-Commerce
Quick Response codes make it easier for the users to reach relevant content. They can create curiosity in a consumer to follow the QR code to a site and read the content. These codes can be a valuable tool for e-commerce sites and advertising. They are inviting to users and allow them to follow a link easily from their smartphone instead of having to type it in on their screen. According to Mashable, design codes make them stand out and they add an aspect of humanity to what might otherwise seem like “cold technology.” According to a report by emarketservices.com, eCommerce companies can take advantage of the downtime of users and accessibility of QR codes to access online shopping.
QR codes now literally surround us from birth, in the form of what some are calling “smart diapers,” as Gizmodo explains. Not as silly as it sounds, this coded clothing serves the practical purpose of preventing infant urinary tract infections, which can cause irritability, fever, bladder infection, and even kidney scarring. Soaked diapers can promote infection, but symptoms can be hard to detect until they become severe, which is where QR codes come in. Chemical test strips built into diapers trigger scans each time babies relieve themselves. The color of the strip provides data for a connected smartphone app to chemically analyze the situation and alert parents of potential problems.
Scanned Wedding Invitations
Wedding planners are finding QR codes to be a big time saver when it comes to sending out invitations and collecting responses, according to New York Times. By including a code on invitations, couples can automatically send guests’ smartphone screens to a website for confirmation, information and directions, complete with digital maps. Invitation apps can even schedule the wedding and reception into guests’ digital calendars. In the process, guests get instantly added to the wedding attendee list, saving planners the time of sorting through responses and adding them to spreadsheets. For those who prefer their invitations to have a more traditional look, designers have created customized codes with more aesthetic appeal.
Codes in the Classroom
Educators are discovering a multitude of innovative uses for QR codes, as Scholastic reports. For instance, adding codes to homework assignments can provide students with links to online tutorials, offering additional assistance to support classroom learning and deliver virtual tutoring. QR codes in library books can direct students to resources with biographical information about authors and commentaries on reading material, making the process of writing book reports more interactive and informative. Students can even create their own codes to share their reports and projects with others.
In 2008, a Japanese stonemason conceived the idea of engraving QR codes on tombstones in order to memorialize information about the deceased and records of family visits. According to ABC News, the idea caught on and spread around the world. Today, cemetery visitors placing funeral flowers can pause to ponder a digital biography of their ancestors and browse a virtual photo album. In the process, they can register their visit, providing a new way to reconnect with long-lost relatives.
It’s easy to envision how similar applications could enhance visitor experiences to places such as monuments, museums,and sports halls of fame. Expect to see QR codes increasingly integrated into every area of our lives in the years to come.