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What is a QR Code and how are they used?

QR Codes, What are they?

QR -Is the short form for ‘quick response’

QR codes are a combination of black and white lines or specific patterns which are used to store URLs containing different and unique kinds of information and can be scanned using devices with cameras that are enabled to process and interpret the information stored.

History and Origin

QR codes were first invented in the year 1994 by an automotive company based in Japan called Denso Wave.

The information encoded is processed by use of ‘reed Solomon error correction’ established by Gustave Solomon and Irvings s.Reed in the year 1960.


The QR codes are an improvement or advancement of the old barcodes used in the early years. Compared to the traditional ones, it can accommodate or hold more information at ago, provide a more efficient way of accessing the information, and increase the security of the items encoded.

With the advancement, there are several ways of encoding modes that are standard and acceptable;

1. Kanji– These are a two-dimensional or double-byte form of encoding which in other cases is also known as a Japanese character. It combines two different bytes on a higher and lower level making it easier to translate and decode.

2. Alphanumeric-Also known as the character codes. They are binary codes containing a set of numbers, letters, punctuations, and mathematical symbols combined in coding different kinds of information. This kind of combination is easily understood by the processing units while decoding.

3. Numeric-Uses numbers and strings of numbers to code and provide unique access to the database containing the packing of the intended form of communication

4. Binary-These is a two-symbol system standing for texts which are easily understood by an instruction given while processing pieces of information.

The team which brought about the advanced codes wanted an easy way of accessing information without much wastage of time and again wanted something unique, explaining the reason for the shape the bars assume which is square.

Previously many people and companies did not embrace the use of the QR codes but in 2002 a breakthrough and transition came about. The first-ever smartphone containing a QR scanner was manufactured and rolled out in Japan. It brought much change in the information industry and many companies and people started using it making the uptake go up.

Another advancement of the QRs was in 2020 whereby the Denso Wave company improved its features to include measures against forgery, protection of brands encoded, and the ability to trace. These features strengthened its importance and efficacy in different areas where these codes are highly used.

Image of a QR Code (barcode) displayed on a phone.

Uses of QR Codes

A major transformation in terms of information storage, advertisements, tracking, entertainment, and many more came about with the invention of these codes. Today it is much easier to access different websites or online products by just scanning the barcodes and you are taken directly to what you need without wasting much time.

Listed below are its uses and the changes it has brought especially in strengthening the security of the information stored.

  • As a strategy for making individuals access websites easily while advertising products online. Here it has made it easy to get the target population in a short period and transform their presence into something useful which enhances the approach and marketing.
  • Individual or personal information is kept safe using the QR code because it cannot be accessed by anyone when it is specifically encoded in a way that prevents access from unauthorized persons. These, therefore, provide a high level of confidentiality and security of the information stored.
  • It stores URLs of different forms of online applications acting as a gateway to different websites. Access to these sites is made easier and less tedious bringing about efficiency and reliability when it comes to browsing through. Individuals studying online find it resourceful enough as it does not waste time while searching for informative information and data.
  • For entertainment purposes, individuals can scan the QR code to access online videos, games, movies, television, and many more entertaining staffs encoded online. In regards to these, most users of smartphones find these interesting and very engaging because they can easily access the information they want at all times. Many entertainment industries have embraced using coding systems to secure their products and have their audience available at all times.
  • With recent improvements, it’s now possible to use the codes for tracking purposes. It has greatly improved the security of items encoded. Many people have adopted it to protect their products from being stolen either online or physically. With everyday advancement and strengthening measures being taken, it brings a milestone to security issues that have been torn when it comes to online and physical theft. It is also used in tracking cases, especially in the health sector for the pandemic diseases like coronavirus, any notifiable disease can be coded to make it easy to track and trace when a case is reported.
  • These codes are also used when doing transactions. It is a convenient way of paying for products that you need more securely and efficiently without worrying about arising issues in regards to money paid.
  • You also use these codes as links to apps you need to download from the play store, instead of going the long way of searching the app and then downloading, QR codes make that easy by directly taking you to the specific app you needed, then allows you to download it. These save on data and time spent making it economical for individuals who prefer to use.
  • Can also be used in two-step verification passwords. It stores the passwords and you need to scan them to retrieve the password whenever you need to use it.
  • Used also to authenticate certain products which are enlisted with the coding system. A barcode is provided and instructions are given to scan the codes to know if the product you needed is an original or counterfeit.
  • Placing barcodes in your home entrances provides information on your home address like phone numbers, house numbers, and individual mailboxes. By these, you can have your home mapped well and avoid confusion among people like delivery guys and visitors coming to your home.

Individuals can create their barcodes or QR codes because the Denso Wave company gave a green light on it to enable individuals to produce their own for use.

With the introduction of advanced QR codes, many individuals have embraced it recently, especially during the covid-19 period when people were being discouraged from some tasks like transactions using cash. As they were being encouraged to pick up the cashless system, these barcodes came into play and its uptake surged.

The most important thing about these codes is that they are reliable and very efficient. Your data is kept secure and only the authorized personnel can access it. It is the greatest invention of all time that has brought positive transformation in the world of technology.

If you are considering developing one for your business, personal, or home use then you are aiming for a secured form of coding with different dimensions and assurance of the safety of a database.

With its features, it brings the much-needed solution to the theft of critical online information which has been a threat to many technology companies across the globe.

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