Dear Amy: I keep seeing advertisements with special codes you can scan with a smartphone. What are they used for? — Jason, Wichita, Kan.
Dear Jason: These codes are called Quick Response codes, or QR codes. They are similar to a bar code but have more advanced features, such as faster scanning and error correcting. QR codes can be used to store lots of different kinds of information, such as a URL, contact information or a text message. All you need to read a QR code is a smartphone with QR reading software installed.
QR codes were originally used to track vehicle parts during manufacturing, but today people are finding lots of new and creative uses. An advertisement might use a QR code to link to a website or a promotional video. A business card with a QR code could be used to quickly add contact information into your phone.
Want to try making your own QR codes? Go to zxing.appspot.com/generator, choose a type of information to encode and, with a parent’s permission, generate your own QR code that you can download or link to online. For more information, check out blogs.howstuffworks.com/2010/11/04/how-qr-codes-work-and-how-to-make-your-own-qr-code.
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