The Greatness of QR Codes

Bob Borson —  May 26, 2011 — 34 Comments

The greatness of QR Codes is apparant – if you know what they are. That’s okay if you don’t, I just learned about them myself not too long ago. So what exactly is a QR code?  QR stands for “Quick Response” and a QR Code is simply a barcode that you can link to several different types of data, including, URL addresses (websites), phone numbers, and text messages. They are a little like the bar codes that everyone has become accustomed to seeing on all merchandise. While popular in Japan for quite a while, they are only now catching on in the States and they are starting to show up everywhere from magazines, posters, business cards, even building signage.

Life of an Architect Logo and QR Code

As a test, I made this QR Code with the data being a URL to my website. It was pretty easy and very straight forward. In all, it took me about 15 seconds to create it. How amazingly cool is that!? (Although I don’t have any expectations that anyone will actually do that other than me, and I’ve already done it like 100 times.) If you wanted to get all crazy about it, you could take the URL (www.lifeofanarchitect.com) and run it through URL shortener site like bit.ly and get a custom and trackable URL link such as this: bit.ly/9w1Y60 it’s this shortened code that you enter into a QR code generator. Now I will be able to see how often and when someone will scan it to get to my site. While I can’t literally tell who came, I can tell that they came via the QR code. This would allow me to know all sorts of interesting things.

For example – lets say that I create a QR code for a particular project and I place this code on my job sign out at the project site. When people see the house, they could scan the code and it would take them to my website where they could see animations of the project, possible floor plans – maybe even one of my amusing, yet wildly enriching blog posts.

QR Code to Modern Cabana

It isn’t that hard to imagine someone driving around the neighborhood and they see one of our projects and they want to know more. If they scan the code above it brings them to a dedicated URL on our website. Most QR readers also give you the option to save the link, or even email it to someone else “…Hey girlfriend, I just saw the most amazing modern house ever – you have to check this out. I’m sending you the link now…”

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QR Code Sale Street Animation

How about providing a look at the animation of a project under construction? It’s so easy for you to do this and a lot more – but the point is always the same. Information empowers people and now you have the ability to present a world of information to just about anyone in real time … without having to be there.

See what I mean? – amazing and powerful.

I went cruising around the internet to learn a little more and I found this graphic on Wikipedia that explained the components of the QR code itself:

Anatomy of QR Code.

Yea, I don’t know what any of that stuff means and I’m not all that sure that it matters. It would appear that only your  imagination can limit the number of uses a QR code could be used for. Some examples include:

  • Installation instructions
  • Project Information Downloads
  • Directions to a place of business
  • Residential Project Data Sheets
  • Special Offers and coupons
  • The process for hiring your professional services
  • Customer feedback forms
  • Google Places maps

So how do you retrieve the information within the QR code? To access these codes, all you need is a smartphone (i.e. IPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) that has a QR Code Reader installed. I’m not researching all the different options but lets just say that somebody else did and you could find them here. I just downloaded a free one on my iPhone and it works fine. You can even scan the QR codes in this post with your phone – I have tested them many, many times myself.

QR is a registered trademark of Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota.  Denso Wave has elected not to exercise their patent rights of QR codes and that has encouraged their widespread use. You can visit their website to learn more.

The website I went to to generate most of the QR codes in this post can be found here but you can just do a Google search on “QR Code Generator” and you will get a dazzling array of options presented to you. For those of you who want a little more control, I found the site of Kerem Erkan and he is obviously a bad ass. Here is a link to the QR Code generator on his site – it is the best one I’ve found so far and the one I plan on using in the foreseeable future.

I hope you found something of interest here – I am really excited about how I can incorporate these QR codes into my business. As if being cool wasn’t enough, these codes can actually provide an invaluable service to my current and future clients.

Cheers.

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even better

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  • Alex

    Hi Bob, besides the uses you mentioned above, what about applying this technology to something more social? I mean, by managing to let those who scanned the QR code communicate between them.

    Let’s say I have a project on site being constructed or already constructed, I’d let people on the neighborhood be redirected to a page where people can comment about the project and talk between them.

    This way, not only the QR code will be useful on an architectural scale, but on the way we experience the urban space, being able to share opinions with those who also visit the project (think about a museum, a historic site, for example).

    What is your opinion about the use of QR Codes for a more interactive urban experience? Do you know anyone who has used it in such a way?

    Cheers!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      in my limited way of think and understanding, QR codes are really one way sources of information that – if configured correctly – can point to sites that allow for some sort of interchange between users.

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  • http://twitter.com/dimanise Dmitri Sennikov

    Hi Bob, some great and unique ideas, even a year later. For those that may be just starting out, here’s a quick guide on how to put QR code on a business card that links to a mobile-optimized profile page http://mobile-sites.com/2012/02/6-easy-steps-to-create-qr-code-business-cards-with-moo-and-sitomic/

  • Zhaku Rira

    Hi! I`m already using that in my company. Almost everywere. But the my favorite is when you  linked that to a mobile, and you can call directly, for example to the sales office. Yep is great on Marketing! But I can say is already to famous even in Europe! 

  • Kathy

    Timely article, just starting to learn about these to utilize in my business

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  • http://www.thepcdoctorpa.com Thepcdoctorpa

    Great article. I guess your QR Codes are working, you ranked very high on a Google search. Even as a tech QR Codes are new ground for me. I found this and have to say it is one of the best explanations I found on them yet. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/c.eric.miller Eric Miller

    This is awesome! The best post on QR codes that I have seen yet…You have challenged me to find a way to use them in both interior design and real estate <—beyond putting them on sign riders, direct mailing, etc.) Thanks Bob! 

  • mike

    I just saw your post and I wanted to show you my project I have up on kickstarter. I am working on a way to make qr codes a tool for everyone to use. Check it out:http://kck.st/m3r5X8

  • John

    We are incorporating QR codes into the sand blasted glass package we have on a junior high school going up in Utah. The theme is science and technology, so all the entrances will have a different code doing different things, like linking to the school’s website, giving them some background information to the school, linking to our website, etc.
    We’re super excited to see them go in. Glad I’m not alone in this!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      You will have to email me some photos – that sounds great. I can’t tell you the number of times I have failed to program in the telephone of my daughters school and when I go pick here up (and the door is locked) it would be great to have a code with the phone number programmed right by the door.

      Great thinking!

  • http://twitter.com/adroyt adroyt

    Awesome Bobness, once again. We (adroyt) have hopped on this ride also; our new biz cards have a QR code proudly (and handily, of course) emblazoned on their shiny faces. It leads to our website, which is our blog showcase. The multitudinous uses are mind-boggling; we hope to be able to deploy them amongst our clientele as much as possible. With the rise of mobile platforms, site placed linkage will be more and more relevant (and critical to maintain visibility). Soon, if “it” can’t be handled with a phone, “it” won’t be touched nearly as often.
    Well researched, well-written, and point well-made. High fives!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks for taking the time to weigh in with some educated opinions. I know I’m on the right path if you are there with me.

      Cheers

  • http://keremerkan.net/ Kerem Erkan

    Kerem Erkan just loves demonstrating the awesomeness of QR Code tech to people, and he actually started to like that bad ass is the new synonym of the word “geek”. ;)

    Thanks for recommending my generator Bob, glad you liked it. As you have an iPhone, I suggest you use Qrafter to read QR Codes. It’s the companion app of my generator, is free and it’s on http://qrafter.com/get/

  • Anonymous

    Hello,

    we believe that QR codes will make the connection between offline and online worlds easier. That’s why we created our QR code generator with social features – YouScan.me – http://www.youscan.me. You can add all your info like Facebook profile or fan page, twitter, youtube, etc. and connect with others.

  • Emily Hooper

    Terrific post. I’m researching QR codes for a story I’m working on right now and you’ve got some awesome info in this post. TYSM.

  • http://twitter.com/jolocktov JoAnn Locktov

    Excellent informative post Bob, thank you!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks JoAnn, 

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment and post this on FB.Cheers!

  • http://twitter.com/Cardphile Cardphile

    Nicely done article, Bob. And Nick @cupboards IS genius! Can’t wait to see what other great uses people come up with.

  • http://twitter.com/havs047 Henry A.Vásquez S.

    Thank for the post, very good.
    Now you got me addictive generating codes here.
    A great asset for our business and very useful to our clients.
    Thanx again 

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Great – glad I could help!

  • http://www.architangent.com Brinn Miracle

    Thanks for this post! I had been considering using one on my business cards, but I hadn’t gotten around to researching them yet. You definitely have me motivated to learn more and get it going!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I just put them on some business cards I ordered – they came in and work perfectly. It’s a little bit of a novelty still but I  think times are a-changin

  • http://www.architangent.com Brinn Miracle

    Thanks for this post! I had been considering using one on my business cards, but I hadn’t gotten around to researching them yet. You definitely have me motivated to learn more and get it going!

  • http://twitter.com/PamDesigns Kitchen Designer

    Really interesting tech! I downloaded ScanLife onto my iPhone and scanned the QR code in your post and it brought up your vimeo instantly.  Faster?  wow –not sure if that’s an issue! I have seen the future an it is now!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      All right Pam! As the first person to tell me that they actually scanned some of these codes, I present you a virtual set of keys …  TO YOUR NEW CAR!!

      Virtual cars get the best gas mileage too – smart and sensible!

      Cheers,
      Bob

  • http://twitter.com/cupboards Nick @ Cupboards

    I’m digging this, Bob- I think that along with the standard info that comes with certain semi-custom lines of cabinets, a QR code with the info for OUR business would be awesome to have neatly inside the sink base(for handy reference). What better way could we have contact with future homeowners of previous jobs?! 

    Great post… looking WAY deeper in to this now. All thanks to you, buddy!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      That’s a great way to maintain your presence on a job site far after you leave. Can you imagine someone other than the original homeowner being able to open the sink base cabinet and scanning the QR code you left behind. They find out where the cabinets come from, who installed them, what line they were, how to contact you for repairs, etc. You could do that today, yet it would have lasting value for years.

      I’m surprised more vendors, contractors and installers aren’t doing this. Think about what it says about the pride you have in your work. You are after all basically putting your signature on the project.

      • http://twitter.com/cupboards Nick @ Cupboards

        It is a permanently affixed business card. Genius! It’s about to happen on our end, Bob- neat thing too, I bet we’ll be first in the area to do it… 

        Just showed it to the folks here at the shop. 

        Makes me very happy. 

  • http://www.buildingmoxie.com jb @BuildingMoxie

    Thanks for posting this Bob . . . good stuff.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Thanks JB – cheers

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001706163306 Mark Ric

     whoever could get the Walmart contract for all their merchandise would never have to work again.