March 21, 2011
Have you looked through your favorite magazine lately and found these on the pages? Within articles and advertisements, you may find these alien squares with smaller black and white squares within them. Publishers will have them scattered through their magazines to give added insight to articles, or offer a chance to enter some giveaway. Some advertisers will use an entire page just to present a single alien square. Others use them as supplements to their physical ads. Book publishers and authors are even jumping on the media bandwagon. What are these crazy things, and where did they come from?
Well, way back in 1994 (around the time eBay was founded), a Japanese company developed these Quick Response Codes. We know them today by their abbreviation: QR Codes. These square codes were initially used to track automotive parts through their assembly process, but have since been repurposed in a variety of ways. For example, these little squares ranging from 1" to 3" can store many different kinds of information. I have actually created and used QR Codes recently at http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/. ZXing (pronounced Zebra Crossing) is a web project that users participate in to make the codes more readily available and customizable. I created one QR Code that contained all of my contact information. Another one contained an upcoming event. Still another code linked to one of my favorite websites. Feel free to create one of your own and send it to friends!
With a barcode scanner on your smartphone, you can read these QR Codes. Once you scan the code, it will take you to the website, or add a person to your contacts, or even add an event to your calendar depending on what the code contains. Sometimes, it will give you multiple choices for a single code. MCPL has joined the trend, too! Don’t be surprised if you find more and more of these codes on our posters and publications. You can obtain a barcode scanner from your smartphone’s app store or market. The one that I have is simply called "Barcode Scanner" and is freely provided by ZXing.
If you would like more information, visit www.QRcode.com/index-e.html. If you have a barcode scanner already, you can scan the QR Code above. If you don’t, be sure to come back after downloading it and scan the code above. After you’re done here, go check out some magazines and start scanning. You never know what you’ll find or what you may win just by scanning a little techie square.
Blue Springs South Branch