QR Codes

Understanding QR Codes

This is a very comprehensive QR Code Primer that will provide you with a solid understanding of the technology – book mark it for future reference.

Example provided by Mark Sprague

Drive mobile traffic using QR Codes

The idea of digitally connecting consumers of your paper-based content to the internet is a powerful concept. If you find this interesting read on. I’ll take you through a little history, what they are and how they are being used (with examples). I’ll finish up with a technical discussion that will provide you with a solid understanding of how the technology works.

Quick Response Codes (QR) were developed by Denso Wave in 1994, and are now an ISO standard. They are in widespread use in Asia, have made great inroads in Europe, and are just starting to be used in the United States. The QR code reader technology ships with most cell phones in Asia, but this is not the case in the US. Consumers currently have to down load third-party applications to decode QR codes. This is not an onerous process – it took me 2 minutes to down load and install the QR code reader from Apple’s iTune store. There are dozens of these applications available from other websites, and most of them are free. It is widely thought that the telecoms will start making QR code readers a standard app on most cell phones in the near future.  In addition, we have we have Google embracing the technology (in the Android OS), and Facebook has been experimenting with these codes as well.

Mobile SEO Consulting by Mark Sprague

So, what are these codes? They have been described as paper-based hyperlinks, and this is a good description. You simply take a picture of a code on a poster with your smart phone, and you get redirected to the website using your cell phone’s browser. They can also be used digitally – you can append a QR code to a Tweet, or they can be displayed on a web page to transfer contact information directly to the cell phone, for example. This technology is blurring the distinction between smart phones, digital destination and content, and paper-based communication mediums.

QR technology provides cell phone users the ability to scan paper-based content using the cell phone’s camera to decode information on a menu, a magazine, a business card, a gift card, a coupon or a website. Once the QR code has b

Personal or company contact information to include MeCard, BlackBerry PIN and BlackBerry vCards.een scanned and decoded, the user has access via their cell phone to the information or destinations that can be any or all of the following:

  1. Dial an embedded phone number, or be redirect to your company home page URL or a specific destination on a social network (i.e. company fan page).
  2. An RSS feed, SMS or an arbitrary text message.
  3. An email address or a calendar event with location, title, start and end time, alarm and zone.
  4. A physical address with location coordinates information.

A typical QR Code looks like thisQR Code consulting by Mark Sprague – which happens to contain my website URL. This unadorned code can be visually modified to a certain extent. For example, a number of agencies are providing custom QR codes for businesses that incorporate their logo or an image. These custom codes are referred to as Design QR Codes. In the case of the first code the image (heart) lies on top of a number of the QR code cells, thus obscuring some of the information.  However this is not a problem because the information is recreated by the Solomon-Reed error correction code used in the technology. In the second code, the individual cells are not obscured by the Lufthansa image, and the decoder can actually read all the cells. In this case the error correct algorithm is treating the logo as if it was a smudge, and correctly decodes the information.

Designer QR Code examples provided by Mark Sprague

 Micro QR CodesMicro QR code

Micro QR codes have a very small footprint and were designed to encode small amounts of data, such as a serial number. They can encode from 6 to 21 alphanumeric characters – useful for a URL, and from 5 to 35 numeric characters – great for a phone number.

iQR Codes

Denso has recently introduced a new member to the QR Code family called the iQR Code. This new code has the following characteristics:

  • They can store more information in small space.
  • They store six times as much information (40K+ vs. 7K characters)
  • The same information in a QR Code can be printed in an iQR code that is 30% smaller
  • They can be rectangular.

Rectangular iQR Code

iQR Code Mark Sprague




What can you do with QR codes?

What are the possibilities? Well, let’s take a look at where consumers are finding QR codes. They show up in magazine ads, maps, food packaging, posters, leaflets, business cards, emails, websites and on the sides of buses. With these vehicles in mind, the current technology could be used in the following manner:

  1. Encode a 2 page document with about 600 words / 4500 characters in a single symbol.
  2. Encode contact information or a short white paper on the back of a business card.  This enables a paper to digital transfer of information.
  3. Enable an easy connection by a mobile device to your website. You could also encode a map with directions for company visitors, or encode company information for display in Google maps.
  4. Track print-based media effectiveness – tracking which ad or poster drove traffic to custom landing pages. Users can also interact with other printed media such as offers on paper-based gift cards and coupons. QR codes can be printed on receipts with additional offers, or provide customer service contact information.
  5. Users can also interact with digital advertisements. For example, they can scan digital coupons and discount offers on a webpage. You could also place QR codes in an email newsletter for additional offers or for event-based information.
  6. You can develop loyalty programs – providing special offers on landing pages from paper-based content that is not accessible from any other source. You could push consumers to a website to view the daily offer, to see if they won a free prize or perhaps to participate in a contest. You could also conduct surveys where a user scans one of multiple choice codes and the select response is automatically sent back to the company.
  7. You can enable product purchase offers, and provide easy access to product information and reviews. You can also provide easy connections to down load applications and content. You could also register a bookmark, append a QR code to a tweet using http://goo.gl/or encode access to a special webinar.
  8. You could print codes with product or contact information on business swag such as coffee cups, t-shirts and hats. I’ve also seen several examples where a QR codes were tattooed on a man’s arm.

Examples of how companies are using QR Codes

  1. Call Mark Sprague for free consultationDick’s Sporting Goods displayed a QR code on the JumboTron during a football game. The fans took pictures of the QR code which connected them to their website where they were offered discounts on purchases.
  2. McDonald’s uses QR Codes on its packaging in Japan so consumers can access nutritional information, and review the amount of calories, fat, and carbohydrates in their meal.
  3. A couple of years ago, Ralph Lauren began placing QR Codes in print ads, store placements, and mailers.  The QR Codes gave consumers access to their style guides, limited edition collections and exclusive video content.
  4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie posters were printed with QR Codes, giving users access to movie’s trailers. The user also received a QR code discount coupon for their next concessionary purchase.
  5. Pepsi printed QR codes on bottles that redirected users to a custom landing page to view content.
  6. CSI recently used QR codes as a plot twist in a TV episode.
  7. The Nonprofit Technology Network conducted a scavenger hunt at the recent NTEN conference.
  8. Google is using QR codes to highlight “Favorite Places” in search results.
  9. Editoras Online published a book that contained nothing but QR codes (no text what so ever) that when decoded provided content about love and hate.
  10. Audi made a giant QR code out of people holding black and white squares in a video advertisement.
  11. Lego created QR code advertisement using Lego blocks.
  12. Tissot uses a QR code in a recent watch advertisement.
  13. Fox is using QR codes to advertise TV programming.
  14. Companies are printing QR codes directly on food (e.g., crackers).
  15. Calvin Klein printed a QR code on a giant billboard to drive traffic to a video.
  16. Joe Martin, author of the Mister Bobbo comic strip has used QR codes in several of his recent strips.

Pro and cons of QR Codes in the American Market


  • QR Code technology is supported by Google in its Android OS.
  • Most cell phones sold today have cameras.
  • 82.5 million people own smart phones in the USA.
  • 2D reader software is available for easy download.
  • The Denso Wave Corporation owns the patent for the QR Code, and has made the specifications available for use by any individual or organization free of charge.
  • The QR Code specification is a JIS Standard, an ISO18004 standard and an AIM Standard.
  • You don’t have to type in URL’s to navigate to a website.
  • QR Codes are supported in the Twitter platform.
  • QR Codes are cheap to create.
  • Fast way to provide complex information to mobile users (one click redirects).


  • QR codes not widely used in USA yet, but people are starting to notice.
  • Probability of short-term consumer confusion as 2D codes are known by many names: QuickMark Data Matrix, mCode, EZCode, Microsoft Tag, Aztec, UpCode, ShotCode and Trillcode.
  • Most cell phones in the US do not come with 2D reader software installed.
  • The technology is fragmented across three major OS platforms.
  • Most US-based consumers are unaware of the concept of 2D codes.
  • QR codes can not be edited, they must be replaced.
  • The value of the offer made by the company must exceed the service provider’s data charge to the customer.
  • The more information you store in a code – the harder it is to decode.

QR Code Technology QR Code Consulting by Mark Sprague

QR codes represent data in 2D – that is information is encoded both vertically and horizontally in the code. The API allows the user to generate three different footprints – small, medium and large. The following QR code contains the URL for MSprague.com and is the medium footprint. While this particular QR code represents only 12 text characters, they have the ability to encode up to:

  1. Alphanumeric – 4, 296 characters
  2. Numeric – 7,089 characters
  3. 8 bit Binary – 2, 953 bytes

These are maximum numbers, and the amount of text space available to you depends upon which of the four error correction schemes are used. The error correction algorithm is based upon Reed-Solomon, and comes in five flavors:

  1. Level L – 7% of characters can be restored (default)
  2. Level M – 15% of characters can be restored (most often used)
  3. Level Q – 25% of characters can be restored
  4. Level H – 30% of characters can be restored
  5. Level S – 50% of characters can be restored (iQR Code only)

Level L and M are most suitable for codes found in clean environments. Level Q and H are for dirty environments, as in manufacturing plants. The error correction level that you use will dictate the amount of text that can be encoded. In general, a more robust the error correction level results in a smaller text message footprint. For example, Level L will allow you to encode 4,296 characters, while Level H only allows for 1,852 characters.

A QR code is a square with an equal number of rows and columns. They start at 21 rows and columns, and increment by fours. The next size up is 25 rows and columns, and the next after that are 29 rows and columns. This increment continues until the fortieth step which is 177 rows and columns. Each step is called a version, and there are 40 versions available. The following QR code is an example of version eight, and contains alphanumeric text.

This QR code contains my personal contact information, and required 49 rows and columns to encode the information. This version is visually much more complex than the code above.  I chose the large footprint for display in this instance. . . .

Lexington eBusiness Consulting

A basic QR code contains five major sections that provide the following functions:

  1. There are three position detection pattern codes located in three of the four corners. This allows 360 degree (omni-directional) high-speed reading of the code.
  2. The timing pattern code help to detect the position of each cell in the QR code by the decoder application.
  3. Solomon-Reed error correction and formatting / mask pattern information codes.
  4. The data area is an array of rows and columns. Each cell is stored as a binary number (1 and 0). Error correction codes are inserted into this area as well.
  5. Buffer zone (also called the quite zone) to isolate the code from other packaging information. This zone is four cells wide.
  6. In more complex QR codes there is a sixth function called the alignment patternwhich will be located in the lower right hand corner (second image). This pattern allows the QR reader to correct for distortion when the code is bent or curved.

QR Code consulting by Mark Sprague.

In the image below you see that the QR Codes data area is organized into an array of cells organized into a two-dimensional matrix where information is encoded both vertically and horizontally. The number of alignment patterns used depends upon how much information is being encoded.


Lexington eBusiness Consulting


QR codes also have linking functionality. This means that a single large code can be divided into two or more codes, up to a maximum of 16 codes. This allows for the delivery of larger data sets that can more easily be decoded. This also provides many more printing options when all you have is a small linear space to insert your QR codes. The top code below contains the same information as the four codes beneath.

Mark Sprague Consulting

QR Code Generators

If you wish to experiment with QR codes there are plenty of sites where you can generate codes for free. You can generate QR code links to your website in seconds.

  1. http://www.mskynet.com/static/maestro

  2. http://www.qrstuff.com/
  3. http://qrcode.kaywa.com/
  4. http://createqrcode.appspot.com/
  5. http://www.beqrious.com/qrcode/create
  6. http://invx.com/
  7. http://www.jaxo-systems.com/barshow/?lang=en_US
  8. http://qrcode.kaywa.com/
  9. http://qrcode.mofuse.com/
  10. http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/
  11. http://www.ghacks.net/2009/03/22/qr-code-generator/

Download QR Code Readers

As well, there are many sources for free QR Code Readers for your specific smart phone.

  1. http://www.i-nigma.com/Downloadi-nigmaReader.html
  2. http://reader.kaywa.com/
  3. http://get.neoreader.com
  4. http://nds1.nokia.com//NOKIA_COM_1/Microsites/BetaLabs/applications/apps/Nokia_Barcode_Reader_S60_32.sis
  5. http://www.beetagg.com/supportedphones/
  6. http://code.google.com/p/zxing/wiki/GetTheReader
  7. http://www.activeprint.org/download.html
  8. http://www.upcode.com/page/1346211
  9. http://www.quickmark.com.tw/En/memlogin/login.asp
  10. http://www.snapmaze.com/?q=node/7
  11. http://www.getscanlife.com/

QR Code Blogs and Resources

  1. http://www.qrmonkey.com/
  2. http://2d-code.co.uk/
  3. http://googlecode.blogspot.com/2010/03/scvngr-and-qr-codes-in-location-based.html
  4. http://www.qrcode.es/?language=en
  5. http://interactivesnack.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/2d-codes-qr-code-datamatrix-code-microsoft-tag-bee-tag-and-resources/
  6. http://www.qrdresscode.com/

More Interesting QR Code Links

QR Code Best Practices

  • When a consumer scans your QR Code make sure you send them to a mobile optimized site, not your corporate website  home page.
  • If you are a regional business try to maxamize your QR Code content in Google’s local search index. Make sure you understand how Google calculates if you are a local business or not.
  • QR Codes are images, and will show up in Bing’s and Google’s image index. This provides you with in-bound SEO Linking opportunities
  • When long URL’s are being encoded, shorten them using a URL shortening service. This allows you to use more error correction.
  • Test your QR codes extensively, especially if you have added a logo to the code.
  • Designer codes require more error correction code, which makes the cells smaller, and harder to decode on older smart phones.

Examples of Design QR Codes

The next four images show examples how companies are modifying QR codes for marketing and branding purposes. Lexington eBusiness Consulting

Interesting Visual Rendering of a QR Code

Organizations are getting creative about the usage, and the visual display of QR codes. The following example is an interesting photo QR code.

Lexington eBusiness Consulting Summary

QR Codes are not in wide spread use in the US yet, but all the technology parts are in place and ready to be exploited. The platform is mature, it’s an ISO standard, and is being effectively used by companies and consumers in Europe and Asia. Major US Internet-based companies, and well-known retailers are embracing the technology – and early adaptors (consumers) are experimenting with them.  QR Codes are cool, and are perceived to be cutting edge – even though they have been around since 1994.

QR Codes are so easy to use, and are so versatile that they provide instant value to individuals and companies alike. This technology will increasingly play an enabling role in future mobile strategy for product sales, information access and promotional programs.

The idea of digitally connecting consumers of your paper-based content to the internet is a powerful concept. They’re coming, are you ready?


What are the most interesting uses of these codes that you’ve seen in the market place recently? How do you plan to use them? Leave a comment and let me know.

Find Out More?

Here is my search behavior article that shows how businesses search for QR Code related products and services.

Also, you can read a second article where I compare QR Codes to Microsoft Tags. Here is the first paragraph:

Microsoft Tags: A Compelling Alternative To QR Code Hyperlinks

Nov 3, 2010 at 11:37am ET by Mark Sprague

Search marketers are interested in print-based hyperlinks: traffic to my QR Codes: Are You Ready For Paper-Based Hyperlinks? post remains strong. So here’s an in-depth look at Microsoft’s entry into the 2D code wars, called Microsoft Tags. Microsoft Tags is based on a homegrown technology known as high-capacity color barcode (HCCB). The Microsoft Tag is definitely distinctive in nature, and has an American southwestern look about it. The platform allows you to use two, four or eight colored triangle in a grid matrix. The first tag, which is based on four colors and a five by ten grid matrix, encodes a URL link to my blog. The second tag uses just two colors – black and white. The second tag contains seven rows, though both contain the same information.

Microsoft tag four color and black and white

As with QR Codes, Microsoft tags are meant to provide digital links between traditional printed media and digital content. To that end, Microsoft tag supports four basic content types: URLs, free text, vCards and a dialer.

To find out more go to Search Engine Land for the complete analysis.

Mark Sprague

Lexington eBusiness Consulting

About Lexington eBusiness Consulting

Mark Sprague’s 25 years of product development experience which includes expertise in Search Engines, Information Products, SEO platforms and Social Networking applications provide in-depth expertise to help you refine products and services, and improve your web sites performance by:

  • Developing a superior data-driven SEO strategy for your website.
  • Understanding your customers’ search behavior and normalizing it to your content strategy.
  • Understanding how search engine technology practically impacts SEO and content strategies.
  • Understanding how search technology impacts content in a social networking environment.
  • Developing a superior user experience based on sound information architecture, usability and coding standards.

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Mark Sprague,  CEO
580 Lowell Street
Lexington, MA 02420

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78 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Technitya
    Apr 09, 2016 @ 00:43:39


    its a very nice share …

    This is a freaking excellent post.

    I’ve got limited knowledge of QR codes beyond make sure they don’t direct to a site that has a bunch of flash that can’t be seen on a phone.

    thank you so much for this share


  2. Jaret Sprigg
    Apr 23, 2015 @ 13:21:32

    Thanks Mark! This still holds up. I’ve found the Manatee Works reader to blow the others away.


  3. petrol Generators south africa
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 09:47:20

    Simply want to say your article is as astounding. The clarity in your post is
    just excellent and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject.

    Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.


  4. Melo Mi
    Apr 03, 2014 @ 02:59:17

    Very good post! We have a QR-Code-Generator with Color and Logo on our Homepage – but the Homepage is in german. If you want see: ein-qr-code-erstellen.de


  5. Michael Hack
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 09:36:35

    Nice article. If you are searching for a easy QR Code tracking solution, you can use QR Track (www.qrtrack.de) which is a QR Code tracker for free and business solutions. It supports QR Code creation, management, tracking, dynamic links and so on.


  6. David Fingerhut
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 18:36:50

    Mark, thank you for your very in-depth blog.

    I have put QR codes on all my business cards, business T-Shirts and Hats. With the increase use of the smartphone, it seems like a no-brainer. Plus, it’s so much easier than typing in a URL.


  7. SnippQR
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 14:21:43

    This is a great crash course in QR codes. Well done, Mark!

    We’d like to add our free custom QR code generator as well – SnippQR: http://qr.snipp.com

    We just launched the free service yesterday.

    Users can create unlimited number of codes with no restrictions on the number of scans per code and all QR codes can be created in high-resolution, print-ready formats. We like to think of it as our contribution to the cause of ridding the world of ugly and non-functional QR codes!


  8. Ian
    May 31, 2013 @ 23:46:59

    Hi, i found your site. We have a qr code reader that will convert the text message to audio via ispeech. I thought you might be interested…it is called Wayfinderpro and available for iphone for free.

    Ian ferrier. ianf@theshapemakers.com


  9. Myles Vives
    May 31, 2013 @ 11:40:53

    Great, informative blog post on QR codes. I haven’t seen anything as extensive as your post in a while.

    I wanted to add that another good QR code generator company that you may want to add to your list (who I have done work with), is Scanlife (www.scanlife.com).


  10. Pat Druger
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 15:55:41

    Meadows Publishing Solutions has released an updated version of their 2D Bar Code Module for Adobe InDesign, with a free license option for producing QR Codes. This new software module is designed to generate QR Code, Data Matrix, and PDF417 two-dimensional bar codes directly in any Adobe InDesign document.

    To help introduce the product, Meadows is currently offering a FREE license of the new module, which is limited to the production of QR Codes. The free license can be obtained by visiting http://www.meadowsps.com/free2d


  11. qrcrazy
    Dec 16, 2012 @ 02:38:23

    you missed a great website, its one of the most advance qr code generator and script:



  12. René
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 10:25:41

    Hi Mark,

    great you wrote a very excellent summary of qr codes. One of the most complete i have seen ever before. There is one similarly good description written by wilko hartz, but it´s in german language 🙂

    Do you know a generator that is able to create Brand integrated qr codes automatically?


  13. Elizabeth Ricci
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 18:09:59

    This is a great use of a QR code! We have written several articles about QR codes on our blog. http://www.lucidagency.com/qr-codes/qr-codes-2-0/


  14. Alfred
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 05:24:37

    Hi Mark,

    What are the other different of Micro QR vs QR code?

    We know that Micro QR perform more faster but less data storage than QR, how about other area like security and etc. ?



  15. ajay
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 05:24:06

    I wish marketers used QR codes for more than just a hyperlink! Any examples of personalization?


  16. MarkD
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 12:40:57

    Looking for a handheld QR code verifier for 32 mm x 32 mm size printed QR code that will give grade A, B, C, F on 4 foot square production sheets tat have several QR codes on them. So far most are 4″ x 6″ flatbeds or handheld 25 mm x 25 mm scan area.


  17. Tamar
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 04:15:48

    Is it possible to store a 60 page document in QR code? Or in a similar code format so it can be used as a contract approval? (Instead of having to sign each page seperately so pages are not changed)
    As I see it, with the data above a 60 page document would create about 30 seperate qr codes, these could be put on one page and then this page could be signed, this would alreday help alot but it would be preferred to create one lare QR code – any ideas?


    • Mark Sprague
      Sep 15, 2011 @ 17:24:38

      It’s possible, if the document is within the upper limits of how many characters can be encoded in a single QR code. Keep in mind that the more information that you encode, the more complex the resulting QR Code is. This in turn provides a greater probablitity that it can’t be scanned by smartphones with lesser pixel resolution. You could try breaking your 60 page document into five or six documents to see how that would work. You will have to experiment to see what generates the best results for you. I think that a 60 page document will be problematic for a QR code.


  18. John Stuckey
    Aug 07, 2011 @ 11:38:49

    Is it possible to “force” dial a phone number?
    I do not use QR codes for fear of someone forcing my phone to dial a 900 number and costing me money.
    Please either confirm or deny this possibility.
    Thank you


    • Mark Sprague
      Aug 30, 2011 @ 11:39:08

      I’ve never heard of this happening. The specification does not support this, but than any technology can be hacked.


  19. Avivo
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 03:10:53

    We just launched new QR Code Generator and Tracking at http://qrcode.good-survey.com which allows:
    * Creating all types of QR Codes
    * We support also various vector formats (EPS, SVG, XAML, …) not only bitmaps (PNG, GIF, JPG, BMP,…)
    * Decoding message from existing QR Codes
    * Allow tracking of created codes (they can be associated to specific geolocation)
    * We are providing strong API so you can create QR codes from your applications
    * Mobile version (in Beta testing)


  20. Benzi Ahamed
    Mar 23, 2011 @ 09:47:45

    Really great article. Well presented with lots of information.


  21. Social QR Code
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 00:42:23

    Nice article. 2011 will be the year of the QR Code.
    I recently launched http://www.SocialQRCode.com

    It is a QR Code generation service designed for businesses who utilize QR Codes and Social Media.

    Please give it a try!


  22. Eric Schwartzman
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 01:13:39

    Just a thanks for you “QR Codes: Are You Ready for Paper-Based QR Codes?” article on Search Engine Land, which I used as a set up for my How to Drive Traffic with QR Codes podcast.


  23. Will Sanderson
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 19:26:34

    Hi! I saw your blog on Bing and have enjoyed checking it out. Thanks for the useful and detailed posts. I will be subscribing to your RSS feed.


  24. Ferres Art
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 14:57:10

    Have you got twitter page sir? In order to follow your blog


    • Mark Sprague
      Oct 15, 2010 @ 11:05:24

      Yes, CMarkSprague is my Twitter handle…Mark


  25. Crystal Reeves
    Oct 11, 2010 @ 17:40:40

    I’ve got a little blog and I was wondering if I can I use some of the information from this post if I provide a link back to your site? If you would rather not, that’s okay, but this was a good post.


  26. T Mayes
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 02:30:23



  27. Golf Clubs
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 13:31:40

    Really interestin information. Im lucky I found this post. Thanks for sharing


  28. ephergetrom
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 08:01:45

    Very Interesting!
    Thank You!


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  32. Einar Hougen
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 05:45:37

    Since March 2010, Kolumbus has been equipping bus stops with individual QR codes, which, when scanned, bring current info on bus departures to your mobile phone. By this week, our installation covers more than 2.800 QR codes and 1.200 stops. More will follow in the coming couple of months, untill all Kolumbus stops in the County of Rogaland, Norway, has been tagged with it’s unique QR code.
    Currently, the QR-codes give instant information regarding the scheduled departure times at your location. In the coming RTPI Project, these departure times will be adjusted with real time information, in cases of e.g. delays.

    We do not know of any similar mass-coverage of QR codes in Norway so far.



  33. Laurent
    Aug 22, 2010 @ 14:10:00

    great work Mark. perhaps can you add this link : http://www.qrdresscode.com
    a french blog 100% dedicaded to QRcode and code 2D


  34. j. albert bowden II
    Aug 20, 2010 @ 16:26:52

    great information!
    you should add a print.css link to your site; i went to print this out, and it was totally broken.


    • Mark Sprague
      Aug 24, 2010 @ 09:41:27

      I’ll look into the print.css thing. I trust in the mean-time that the doc I sent you will solve this problem?


  35. Granville Warrell
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 22:27:15

    Greetings from an avid reader! Well, there have been many pieces of writing that I have seen today however none of them compares to this. Congratulations! And I want you to be aware that my friends reckon I am extremely critical so that is massive praise indeed.


    • Mark Sprague
      Aug 18, 2010 @ 16:32:34

      Thanks for the vote – I appreciate that you found it useful. Mark


  36. Katy Stolte
    Aug 01, 2010 @ 15:23:43

    Wonderful, that’s exactly what I was scanning for! You just spared me alot of work


  37. Sam
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 09:26:33

    Nice, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    Do you know any other website that explain more detail closed to the programming concept of Qr code? I would like to learn the algorithm that is used to decode the qr code.



    • Mark Sprague
      Jul 25, 2010 @ 10:38:38

      You should visit the Denso-wave Corporation’s website. These are the folks that developed the technology.


  38. Jason
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 10:23:16

    Nicely done, Mark! I appreciate the effort you put into this article. Thanks.


    • Mark Sprague
      Jul 12, 2010 @ 12:59:15

      Jason, thanks – glad you liked it.


      • qrmakerdotcom
        Jan 09, 2015 @ 07:07:24

        Thanks for this great information,this is really more benefical for our busniess,Quick Response Codes which employ four standardized encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte / binary, and kanji) to proficiently store data. It supports URL, Email, Dynamic Codes, Tracking, Analytics and Free text.

  39. Jason Ross
    Jul 11, 2010 @ 02:39:14

    Thanks for writing such an informative article. You clearly communicate ALL that there is to know for someone going from “Huh?” to “Yep, I totally get this!!”


    • Mark Sprague
      Jul 11, 2010 @ 08:02:03

      Jason, I’m glad you found the article useful. Thanks – Mark


  40. Mark Sprague
    Jun 22, 2010 @ 09:06:30

    I will be continually updating this post as new information and examples become available – so, check in every now and again.

    Mark Sprague


  41. Chase Mann
    Jun 20, 2010 @ 16:55:56

    Awesome article Mark!

    I recently wrote an article on “Build a Better Business Card” and had a reader comment that he couldn’t believe I didn’t mention QR codes.

    Well point taken and rectified. I’m now writing an article strictly on QR codes for Marketing and found your article to be, by far, the most useful research.

    Thanks & Cheers,


    • Mark Sprague
      Jun 22, 2010 @ 08:54:38

      Thanks, I’m glad you found the information useful. Have you seen good business card example with QR Codes?


  42. Alan Wolk
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 07:50:27

    We are a flexible packaging printer and just recieved a request to print this code on one of our labels. What is the best suited printing process ( Rotogravure, Flexography, Offset) to print his code?

    Aprreciate any help you can give us.


  43. John Refford
    Jun 15, 2010 @ 09:06:56

    Article that does a great job at describing QQ codes. It got me thinking about when to adopt them for our target audience.


  44. Alex Fraser
    Jun 06, 2010 @ 11:40:42


    Good background piece on QR codes. We are finding that MS TAG has several advantages for marketers, especially when they want to optimize the user experience in alignment with a marketing calendar.

    Alex Fraser


  45. davidjbolton
    May 30, 2010 @ 13:57:35

    Hey Mark,

    This is an excellent piece and has helped me out a lot.

    I am currently putting together a piece for FIPP (Federation of International Print Publications) which discusses the “explosion” in 2D coding in magazines in Europe. Would it be OK to quote some of the information provided so that I can add depth to the article? I need to have 1000 words by tuesday but my email is boltondavidj@gmail.com if there is a problem with me using your piece to back up my article.

    Thanks in advance

    David Bolton (Freelance Journalist)


  46. Kent Lichty
    May 26, 2010 @ 11:38:18

    Hi Mark;

    I’m hoping that you can maybe help me with a QRCode question; your site is very interesting.

    I am trying to write a QRCode encoder, but I am having real trouble with the algorithm to develop the Reed-Solomon error correction codes. I have the ISO manual (ISO/IEC 18004), but all it has is a description of the algorithm in general math terms which is WAY OVER my head! The manuals for DataMatrix and PDF 417 contained an actual computer program that I could use to develop the codes.

    So, are you aware of any algorithms (in any computer language) that I could obtain that can generate the error correction codes?

    I would really appreciate any help that you could provide; thanks.


  47. accuchris
    May 17, 2010 @ 12:02:16

    Great Post! Very good overview of QR codes.
    If you want to make your own business cards with a QR code check out this site: http://www.b2vcard.com
    it lets you upload your own art or you can use one of the templates. best of all it creates your QR code from your profile so if something changes you can update your profile for free and your QR code on your old cards scan your new info!


  48. Philip Warbasse
    May 13, 2010 @ 13:59:53

    Very nice job Mark – Thanks for your efforts!
    ~Philip Warbasse


  49. Patrick
    May 12, 2010 @ 00:53:59

    Great list of pros and cons.

    I run a company that designs custom QR codes so this article was very helpful. Check out my stuff at the following url.

    Patrick Donnelly


    • Mark Sprague
      May 12, 2010 @ 06:35:49

      I’ll take a look. I just sent someone to your webpage. Mark


  50. Dan Richards
    May 08, 2010 @ 09:09:50

    Thanks for the great post! These will be everywhere over the next 12 -18 months and this post is a great overview and summary of what they are and how to use them!


  51. Noittespophor
    May 02, 2010 @ 05:36:24

    Cool work, I need to hear more from you.Are you working in a Group that you can make such a cool Blog? 🙂


    • Mark Sprague
      May 06, 2010 @ 15:15:25

      I’m an independent consultant working in the area of search engine and social media technologies.


  52. QR Codes and Travel: Qantas Launches Mobile Boarding Passes « ResourceShelf
    Apr 30, 2010 @ 17:11:53

  53. Joyce Ward
    Apr 30, 2010 @ 13:02:13

    Mark, very informative – thank you. QR codes look like excellent vehicles to move information from the user’s physical world to web.

    Is there QR usage in Japan?


    • Mark Sprague
      Apr 30, 2010 @ 13:28:08

      Yes, something like 70 percent of all cell phone have QR Code readers. They are in wide usage there.


  54. Andy @ FirstFound
    Apr 29, 2010 @ 09:47:18

    Ah brilliant. I’ve seen quite a few QR Codes, but I knew next to nothing about them. This article really helped. Thanks!


  55. TheBetsy
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 08:20:31

    Really informative- I’ve heard of QR codes and even created my own QR code business card, but your thorough explanation and examples really helped me see the business and marketing implications. Thanks.


  56. Tweets that mention Understanding QR Codes « Mark Sprague's Blog -- Topsy.com
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 08:03:00

  57. Bobbie Carlton
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 07:51:55

    Mark, this is great. This is exactly the kind of thing I have been looking into as I look into print-based programs and how to convert print mailers into online/digital relationships!


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