QRcode implementation tips.
- What is a QRcode?
QRcode means Quick Response code.
QRcode was created in 1994 by a Toyota supplier named Denso. It was used to track automotive components through the logistic process. Denso later shared its invention under a free license.
Then it spread all around the world.
QRcode is a two-dimensional barcode consisting of a black and white pixel pattern which allows to encode up to a few hundred characters such as URL, text, geo-location datas, SMS, emails, Wi-Fi access code, vcard (for personal data sharing)…
Smartphones and tablets are able to recognize and decode them exceptionally fast, that explain their name Quick Response. The applicable standard for QRcode is ISO/CEI 18004:2006.
QRcode should not be confused with barcode or datamatrix.
- How to create a QRcode?
Many online tools allow creating a QRcode such as QRcode generator, kaywa.com, unitag.io, codactiv.com (with statistical outputs)…
Just copy/paste the URL and get your QRcode file.
- How to read a QRcode?
Similarly, many apps are available, often the same. Qrafter, QRcode, QRcode reader, Smart Scan Lite…
- Few tips:
1- Think first about the benefits of QR codes for your customers?
2- Make obvious what are the service embedded in the QRcode (link, discount, app downloading…) and how to use it.
3- Carry out extensive real life tests to validate QRcode design. For instance, putting QRcodes in the subway means no network. If a QRcode is provided on a screen, reflection has to be taken into account, especially when smartphone’s light is automatically on in case of darkness. I once, was not able to scan a QRcode on a interactive terminal because a spider was dead between the screen and the protective glass right in front of the QRcode.
4- The ideal size of a QRcode is ten times smaller than the reading distance. For a 20 centimeter scanning, a size of 2×2 centimeter is enough. Don’t undersize the QRcode.
5- Leave free space around the QRcode, it is mandatory for the reading. It is called quiet zone. The minimum size of a quiet zone is the size of two patterns (the small square that constitute the QRcode)
6- For long content URL, use short URL to reduce the size of the QRcode. Indeed, the complexity of a QRcode is linked to the content embedded. For example, a 21×21 patterns QRcode embeds around 10 to 25 digits content, a 25×25 patterns QRcode, 25 to 47 digits etc…
7- If your QRcode is exposed to harsh conditions, increase the error-correction level to its maximum. Indeed, by default a QRcode embeds a level of 7% redundancy meaning that the QRcode can still be readable even if 7% of the patterns are damaged. This level can be increased till 30% of redundancy.
8- Monitor the use of your QRcode by tagging the URL and getting analytics.
- 3 practical implementations:
First example. Simple but nevertheless effective use of a QRcode, add LinkedIn link on a resume:
Second example. Make a link between a product and its datas.
During the development stage of charging stations for electric vehicles called EVlink, we discovered that customers (end-users, installers, prescribers) were permanently seeking for information such as installation guide, technical characteristics, wiring diagrams, protection devices required…
On the product itself we added a QRcode. In fact, we transformed an industrial datamatrix (embedding commercial reference and serial number, including date code) to a QRcode embedding the URL of a landing page in addition.
Scanning the QRcode a second time with mySchneider app, the customer can then:
-get a detailed product datasheet.
-access to FAQ.
-download all the related documents.
-submit to the Customer Care Center a mail. All the product individual datas will be transmitted: commercial reference, serial number, date code.
-can be put in touch by phone with his local Customer Care Center.
-or find a distributor close to him.
Associated with QRcode, mySchneider app makes the link between product and datas for a more digitized customer experience.
Third example: game library.
During a discussion with the person in charge of my town’s game library, she was complaining of the low turn-over for games for players over 10-years. The reason for her, was the long and complicated rules. People had to rent the games first, then read carefully the rules to sometimes discover that they do not like or have small time remaining to play.
I was aware of the French website called videoregles.net, animated by Yahndrev, a heavily involved webmaster whose passion is to “translate” written playing rules into fun and attractive videos. The content was available; the “only” thing to do was to link it to the game itself.
In April 2014, I established contact through the forum to share the proposal to create QRcode label directly affixed on the game. And then we created and printed labels that were stuck on the main games.
Fourth example: Easy connection to Wifi at home for guests.
Thanks to Unitag.io, it’s easy to create and print a QRcode to allow your guests to easily connect the Wifi.
Why is QRcode so unloved in Western countries, whereas it is so popular in China?
The answer is probably that a third-party QRcode reading app is needed and there’s no room left in our western mobile phones for additional app whatever the value brought. In China, QRcode reader is natively integrated into Wechat, the well-known social media app. You can learn more by reading this.
Things may change, since Google finally decided, in February 2017, to add a native QRcode reader on Google Chrome for iOS devices that support 3D-touch. No doubt that other GAFA will follow.
If you appreciated the topic, as a bonus, have a look on this incredible video that proves that QRcodes applications have no limits.
Laurent HELAINE @laurentlnpro