What Is A QR Code?

A QR code or Quick Response code is a two dimensional matrix barcode. The code is made up of black modules on a white background arranged in a square pattern. The encoded information within the QR code can be any kind of data including alphanumeric or binary. QR codes were originally designed for the automotive industry but more recently have become popular everywhere due to their storage capacity and fast readability.


QR code technology is frequently used in Japan and was invented by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994. The codes were created in order to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. Quick Response codes have grown in popularity and today QR barcodes are scanned by smartphones to obtain information, coupons, and more.

QR codes can store various amounts of data and this depends on the quick response code’s error correction level, version, and character set. The character set refers to the number of black modules contained within the QR code. The version refers to the type of QR code; versions include alphanumeric, binary, or Kanji. Error correction means that when scanned, the QR code uses the Reed Solomon error correction algorithm which corrects errors within the code and allows it to still scan correctly. For example, a QR code with some type of embellishment in the middle will still scan correctly because of error correction. There are four levels of error correction and these include level L, level M, level Q, and level H. The higher the error correction level a QR code has the less storage capacity that code has.

High error correction levels allow artistic QR codes to be created that will still scan correctly but may include intentional errors that make them more attractive or readable to the human eye. These artistic QR codes can incorporate logos, colors and other features into the QR barcode design. QR codes are formatted to record two pieces of information, the mask pattern used for the QR symbol and the error correction level. Masking refers to the breaking up of patterns in the data area that could possibly confuse a QR code scanner. These confusing patterns could include misleading areas that look like locator marks or large blank areas. QR code data is designed to be placed from right to left in a zigzag pattern. In larger QR codes, this pattern can be complicated by the use of multiple error correction blocks or alignment patterns.

Today, QR codes are being used more and more and are beginning to be seen everywhere. These codes can provide the person scanning them with endless amounts of information and can direct the user to anything from coupons, menus, websites, business codes, and endless other types of information.