If you haven’t seen one of these yet, you probably will this year. It’s the QR code. Once used to track equipment parts, it has now made its way onto flyers, advertisements, and business cards.

What is a QR code?
It’s the barcode of the 21st century. It was invented in Japan by Toyota to store more information than a traditional barcode. Instead of 16 numbers, it can store thousands of characters.

What does it store?
If you see a QR code, it most likely stores a URL to a website or contact information.

Why are we seeing these now?
Because they make life easier. They are used heavily in Japan and South Korea to make accessing information from a mobile phone quicker. By scanning a QR code you can tell your phone to open up a website or save someone’s contact information.

How do I scan a QR code?
You use an app on your phone. If you have an iPhone, download an app like RedLaser, Scan, or Google Goggles. If you have an Android, you should already have the ZXing app already installed.

How can I create a QR code?
There are a few simple (free) tools online to help you create QR codes. Try tools like KaywaZXing Generator, and QR Code City.

I’m a business, why should I care?
In the battle for people’s attention, making it easier for your customer to connect with you is essential. QR codes make it easier for a person to use their smartphone to open up your brand’s website or get your email address.

What else should I know?
QR codes are incredibly powerful, but require some knowledge before you can use them. In countries like Japan, these square barcodes are so common that everyone knows how to use them. In the United States, there are a few barriers to adoption. The first is that QR code readers are not standard on phones, so people will have to go out of their way to download them. Second, many people are still unaware of what these codes are and what they do.

Want to learn more?
There is a good article on Wikipedia that is worth reading. Fast Company has a good article on different ways you can use QR codes.

We believe QR codes are important, so we’ve made it easy for you to create one for your mobile form. Once you create and publish a form within Funnel, just click on the Share tab.

Images from Flickr: Robert Scoble, JTGF, and netwalkerz_net.

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