Well, I am. See that 2-dimensional code to the left? That code contains the following information about me:
- First & last name
- Email address
- Web site URL
- Phone number
- Physical address, including country of origin
All that is in there? What is it for? And why would you use it?
That thing is called a QR (“Quick Response”) code. It’s essentially a 2-dimensional bar code that can encode various types of information. The idea is that a cell phone can take a picture of it and, with the appropriate software, can decode it. It’s sometimes called mobile tagging as well.
“Codes storing addresses and URLs may appear in magazines, on signs, buses, business cards or just about any object that users might need information about. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader software can scan the image of the QR Code causing the phone’s browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL. This act of linking from physical world objects is known as a hardlink or physical world hyperlinks.”
As you might guess, these are currently popular in Japan, where mobile use is a totally ingrained feature of the culture. But they are starting to gain some traction in the States, as they are a handy way to link real world objects to the Web.
What does this mean to me, Laura?
- Imagine using these to encode links to book reviews or your library’s web site; the QR code could be on bookmarks, library posters or even door signage. Be creative; how many ways could you think of to link your library’s digital resources to the physical ones?
- More advanced QR codes can even have colors or images embedded in them without disturbing the actual encoded info. See some cool examples.
- This would be considered “bleeding edge” technology, except that the popularity of the iPhone may change that rapidly. QR readers for iPhones are easily available through the iPhone App Store.
- Making a QR code is simple and free. A free one to try is MSKYNET QRCode Generator (Maestro), but there are many others.