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Copyright 2012 by Chris Thomas First published in 2012 by Milton Contact Ltd. A CIP Catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN: 978-0-9562649-9-2 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other - except for brief quotations in print reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Printed in the United Kingdom Published by Milton Contact Ltd 3 Hall End, Milton Cambridge, CB24 6AQ United Kingdom www.miltoncontact.co.uk


Mervyn Foster (Soothing Hands Ltd) who provided the photo of his car with the QR Code and gave me the time to write this by taking over the chairmanship at HBN. Brian Williamson (Inheritance Protect) who was my mental embodiment of an enthusiastic friendly audience not yet familiar with using QR Code and mobile technologies. This book would not have started without the influence of two other people:

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Ann Hawkins (The Inspired Group) who reminded me that knowledge gained should be shared to a wider audience and who prompted ... Lisa Garwood (nativeBrand) to ask if I could give a talk on QR Codes to her Business Owners Breakfast group, which resulted in my doing the wider research for this book. A special thank you to my wife Jane, who has been patient with my distraction and late night writing. Jane also helped out with generating short links and basic QR Codes when time was running short - and gave her creative input too.

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Table of Contents Acknowledgements.................................................1 Introduction.............................................................7 QR Code Basics......................................................9 What is a QR Code?...........................................9 The benefits of a QR Code...............................10 How do I read a QR Code?..............................13 What do I need to read a QR Code?............13 Installing a QR Code reader.........................14 How do I use my mobile phone to read a QR Code?..........................................................16 How do I create a QR Code?............................17 Google's http://goo.gl...................................18 http://www.the2dcode.com...........................19 Google ZXing (Zebra Crossing)...................19 Developing your own QR Code generator with ZXing...........................................................20 How do I use a QR Code?................................21 Risks with QR Codes........................................22 QR Codes for your business.................................23 How others have used QR Codes....................23 Business cards.............................................23 Direction to website......................................24 Testing your marketing.................................27 Enabling purchasing.....................................28 Adding customer value.................................31 Educating customers in product use............32 Stocktaking..................................................33 Ticketing.......................................................34 Missed Opportunities ?.....................................37

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What can YOU use a QR Code for?.................41 Existing uses summarised (the list is not exclusive):....................................................41 Future applications:......................................42 Static QR Codes...............................................43 Dynamic QR Codes..........................................43 Augmented Reality (AR) QR Codes.................45 Your customers and QR Codes.............................48 Customer awareness........................................48 Customer education..........................................49 Customer accessibility......................................50 Avoid additional barriers to use....................50 Use mobile friendly sites..............................51 Customer benefits.............................................53 Making your QR Code attractive...........................55 Why bother?.....................................................58 What you CAN do to QR Codes.......................57 Change colour..............................................57 Inverted colours – some readers only..........58 Soften corners..............................................58 Add perspective...........................................60 Overlay on designs......................................63 Partially cover..............................................63 Blending into a larger pattern.......................65 Imaginative play...........................................66 Changes in QR Code that DO NOT work.........70 Additional reading online:.................................70 How to modify your QR Code................................71 Encouragement and reassurance.....................71 Your own art......................................................72 The format of QR Codes...................................75 Using Photo-software.......................................75

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Using Graphics software...................................79 From Sandcastles to LEGO..............................80 Technical aspects..................................................82 QR Code specifications....................................82 Sources for specifications............................82 Key areas on a QR Code.............................82 Optimum QR Code size...............................84 QR Code IP and Standards..............................86 QR Code Patents.........................................87 QR Code Registered Trademark..................87 QR Code ISO Standard...............................89 Conclusion............................................................90 Glossary................................................................92 Illustrations and Links............................................93

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Introduction This book is aimed at the business person interested in QR Codes, whether as a novice or someone who wishes to learn more but in a language directed to them rather than to technical experts. Contrary to general public perception, we business people are actually quite creative – we live in a world of selling our ideas. So this book includes practical, interesting, intriguing or simply aesthetic aspects of QR Codes. As part of your business, you may have come across a small square black and white pattern with distinctive large squares in three of its corners. Suddenly you notice them everywhere, on products and posters, in magazines and newspapers. So you begin to ask yourself: •

What are they?

Should I be using them?

How do I use them?

Can't they be more interesting?!?

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•

Are they here to stay or just a flash in the pan?

As an early adopter, I've been through the same stages. This book introduces you to QR Codes from the perspective of a business person, rather than a technical geek. The aim is to provide you with as little or as much information as you need to make a decision about whether and how you can use QR Codes within your business. It also points the way to using QR Codes more imaginatively, both in applications and design. The overall structure of the book starts with basic concepts and enough information to get started. Further examples and additional information follow with the highly technical information at the end. However, the structure is also such that you can dip in to chapters that interest you at the moment. QR Codes are liberally scattered throughout the book, either as useful links or snippets of text. If you are not up to scanning QR codes, the same references are listed at the back of the book as the actual text, short and full URLs.

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QR Code Basics What is a QR Code? QR Code stands for Quick Response Code. They are square, two-dimensional bar-codes. A QR Code generally has a distinctive pattern of three larger squares, one in each of three corners of the square. There are other types of 2D codes available, with different companies promoting their use. Wikipedia's article “Bar-code” lists a staggering 48 types, compared to their list of 32 linear barcodes! Figure 10 gives the link to the site. The current success of QR Codes is possibly due to a fortunate combination of factors: •

They can link a printed picture to a web application

They can work with mobile phone cameras

Consumerand applications exist

QR Codes are free from any licence 9

business-friendly


QR Codes were originally patented in 1994 by the Japanese company, Denso Wave. They used them for product scanning as part of tracking automotive parts during production and shipping (see sections on “QR Code Patents” and “How others have used QR Codes” later in the book). You are most likely to see them in magazines and newspapers or on advertisements for e-marketing or e-information. As we shall see later, there are many more useful applications (see “QR Codes for your business”). Most people have now seen and can recognise a QR Code. However, the proportion of the population scanning them is still quite low. Providing an incentive to scan your QR Code, in the form of a promotion or reward is therefore recommended (see “Your customers and QR Codes” below). Like any technology, they are open to abuse by a small minority – see “Risks with QR Codes” below.

The benefits of a QR Code For the business and the user, the key benefit is that a QR Code printed or displayed somewhere can give you access to additional content or functions. 10


Technically, the main benefit of a QR Code is that it is an image, which, when viewed or scanned with a mobile phone or hand-held scanner, can make something happen. This can be as simple as displaying a phone number, linking your mobile to a website or starting an augmented reality app. For example, you can cheaply print a black and white QR Code encoding your product special offer web-page on a postcard. When the reader scans the promotional QR Code with their mobile phone, they are then directed to your web-page where they can take advantage of your offer immediately. QR Codes can also hold much more information than linear bar codes. This is what gives them the flexibility to be used in lots of different ways. QR Codes contain reference information, such as the three larger corner squares. When scanned, it is easier for the scanning software to identify the shape as a QR Code, even if there has been some distortion. The actual recognition is therefore generally very fast, hence the name Quick Response Code, even if the scanning device is held at an angle to the QR Code.

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How do I read a QR Code? What do I need to read a QR Code? To read a QR Code you need: 1. Either a Mobile phone that has: 1. A camera 2. The ability to connect to the internet 3. A program or application called a QR Code Reader – (see below) 2. Or a hand-held scanner 1. plus the software that will recognise a QR Code from the image or scan made. (This is more applicable for stocktaking etc.) In Asia most mobile phones come with QR Code readers already installed. In the UK and other countries you may have to download a QR Code reading app.

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Installing a QR Code reader There are many QR Code reader programs and apps available. 1. I suggest checking your phone manual to see if you can download small programs or apps. If you can, proceed to point two, keeping your phone manual handy. 2. Search online or in your phone's app directory for a QR Code Reader or barcode reader. Most QR Code Readers are freely available. I have been quite happy with the reader I have downloaded from inigma at http://www.i-nigma.mobi. Other readers are reviewed in two articles encoded in QR Codes in figure 15 opposite. 3. Follow the site's instructions to download and install the QR Code reader to your phone. For example, i-nigma identifies your phone and gives you a link to select and click to download the suitable QR Code Reader 4. When downloaded, the software automatically asked me if I wanted to install it, which was simple and easy for me! 14


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5. On my mobile, downloaded applications can be found in a separate folder called Installations. With other mobile phones, they may appear directly as icons on your screen. How do I use my mobile phone to read a QR Code? 1. Find the QR Code reader on your phone and open it. 2. Usually the QR Code reader then opens your camera, sometimes displaying a square in the centre of the screen. 3. Hold your camera over the QR Code to be read so that it almost fills the screen 4. If your QR Code reader detects the QR Code, you will immediately be taken on the the directions given by the QR Code, such as contact details, some text, or a link to the web.

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How do I create a QR Code? To create a QR Code, you use a QR Code Generator. I list several further on in this section. You can find many free ones. The principles are generally very similar: 1. You go to the online address of your chosen QR Code generators. 2. You are invited to enter some text into field box on the screen. If it is a simple QR Code generator, go to point five. 3. More sophisticated QR code generators will allow you to enter different types of content, a number, plain text, contact details, a web link or URL. 4. Some QR Code generators allow you to select a level of error correction, from L for low, which gives a smaller QR Code, to H for high where up to 30% of the QR Code can be covered and still be read. The latter gives a much larger and more complicated QR Code. 5. Once you have entered the data, you click the action button, which may be labelled “go” or “Create QR Code” or equivalent. 17


6. A QR Code will then be displayed either below or on a new page on screen. 7. Right click on the QR Code and either copy the QR Code to your clipboard or save it to a location on your PC/tablet/mobile. 8. You can then paste or insert the QR Code into the document or application where you want to use it. There are numerous sites providing QR Code generators for free. Three that I can recommend immediately are: Google's http://goo.gl This generator has a three benefits if you want to link to a website or web-address. It will produce: 1. A shortened code for you from a long web address. 2. A simple QR Code for the short code. 3. Basic information on the number of people who have scanned your QR Code and then followed a link, and their geographic origin.

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SAMPLE QR Codes for the creative business person  
SAMPLE QR Codes for the creative business person  

A compendium of information on QR Codes

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