For the Love of All Things Social Part 1: QR Code Integration

Those who know me, know that I love to be in the know as far as technology is concerned. Have you ever seen an item and wanted to know more about it, yet you see this strange, black and white, hieroglyphic-looking square in the place of the details? Are there details which tell you to use your phone to scan it, and so, being the obedient child that you are, you try doing that, only to realise that you don’t know how? Trust me, you are not alone.

LOL! Well let me tell you, that very thing happened to me when they started popping up all over the place. I didn’t have the faintest idea what to do and had to call on my youngest brother to find out what I needed to do. With smirk on face and a sympathetic look, he explained that I would need software that my Nokia 6230 could never handle. Had the relevant software been integrated from manufacture, I could have been able to access information, do more product research and check promotions directly from my phone.

How easy for those who know nothing about the QR code design, here is a little backstory on it:

Early cash registers required the prices to be input manually. After a while of having to do this for each item purchased by a customer, it became a time-consuming process when large quantities of items were purchased, causing cashiers to suffer from wrist numbness and carpal tunnel syndrome. The barcode was invented and the POS (point-of-sale) system was developed. The price of an item purchased showed up on the display then the barcode was scanned by an optical sensor and sent directly to a computer simultaneously.

However, as barcodes became more widely used, the limitations in the amount of details they could hold became more apparent, as they could only hold or so alphanumeric characters of information. There came the call for the creation of something more efficient: the QR or quick response code.

The QR code was created by Denso Wave in 1994 for the Japanese automotive industry. It comprises 4 standard modes of encoding: alphanumeric, numeric, kanji (a system of Japanese writing using Chinese characters) and byte/binary, which is a 2D (two-dimensional) organised way of retaining information, east to read, as well as having a greater capacity for storage than predecessors. Various ways to use the QR code include inventory, product tracking, transaction time tracking, item identification, document management and general marketing. The identifiers are black and white squares arranged in a square grid on white background, which can be read by a camera and is detected by a group of codes called the Reed-Solomon codes developed by Irving S. Reed and Gustave Solomon, and introduced in 1960. These codes are error-correcting and have applications in multiple audio-visual technologies as well as satellite communication.

Boy, did I learn a lot! Now… enough of all of those techie details, because believe me, it goes on for quite a bit. Suffice it to say, they are extremely useful and are pretty awesome when you get into searching it out. Here are 5 brands of smartphones with built-in QR code readers: Motorola, Micromax, Xiaomi, Lenovo and Xperia. Also, 6 camera apps which have QR readers integrated on the software: Snapchat, UC Browser, Bing Vision Lens, Google Now on Tap, WeChat and Opera Mini. WhatsApp also has this encoded into their app, but So if you have any of these, kudos to you.

What I realised along the way, is that the three major cell phone brands: iPhone, Huawei and Samsung, do not have this technology integrated into their software. For now, I will remain on the periphery of this technology until I find the “right one”.