Short for quick response code, a QR code is a type of two-dimensional (2D) barcode that can be read using a QR barcode reader or camera-enabled smartphone with QR reader software. A QR code is able to carry information in both the vertical and the horizontal direction, which is why it is called a 2D barcode. The QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Inc. in Japan and other countries.
QR Codes are popular with mobile phone users as the barcode can be used to store addresses and URLs. With a camera-enabled smartphone, users can scan the QR Code which has been coded to do things like display text, provide contact data or even open a webpage in the browser on the smartphone. The QR Code specification outlines data types, or services for this information. By using the standards it ensures QR Code software can correctly read the barcode. Some examples include:
- URL: (HTTP) encode the text of URL in the barcode
- Email address: (MAILTO) encode an e-mail address using the mailto URI
- Telephone numbers: (TEL) encode a telephone number with digits understood as a telephone number
- SMS: (SMS) encode an SMS shortcode or number by creating an SMS URI.
QR Codes can be printed and displayed anywhere a mobile phone user might scan the code such as in a magazine or displayed at a cash register. They can also be displayed online.
There are a number of online services that will generate a QR Code based on the information you specify when mapping the QR code.