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Scan and share

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Have you noticed new barcodes on flyers, websites and on the back of your wine bottle or eticket? Paula Lepore Burrough unearths a new technology.

QR code is short for Quick Response Code. This two-dimensional, black-on-white patterned square reads quickly and can store more data than the standard barcode. It was invented in 1994 to allow the automotive industry to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, but today anyone can discover the fun uses of QR codes. All you need is a mobile device with a camera and QR reader application installed. Encoded information can now consist of almost any type of data. Last year, in America 14 million people were scanning QR codes and the phenomenon is now growing in Hong Kong for both personal and commercial purposes. A QR generator website makes it easy to create a QR code; personal favourite sites include QR Stuff, Kaywa and SnapVu.

Easy Access

Tired of typing out your home address, email or Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address over and over again? You can translate any type of content into a QR code, including images, a document or a set of instructions on Google maps. Simply generate then insert to print or send a QR code via a text message or email. Jazzy QR code uses include making business cards, marketing your product or event on a T-shirt, creating a link to your social site, or using Twittertools for voting. If you’re the organised type, you might find QR Stuff’s integrated foreground colour tool useful for various types of content.


Throw a bit of tech into your next party to distract your text-addict friends. Place some prompting ‘get to know me’ questions around the room using QR codes. Then keep your fingers crossed for some interesting conversations to spark up the ambiance. Or organise a beach scavenger hunt, if you have some young teenagers to entertain for an afternoon. Place QR-coded clues at various locations around the beach to keep them active and engaged. Your efforts to make some use of their mobile devices should at least impress them. Have your guests come prepared with a free QR reader application such as Scan, QR Reader, I-nigma or Easy AR.

Making Music

QR Voice is a very simple web-based application that allows you to record or type text in 40 different languages. Once encoded, your message (of up to 100 characters) is reproduced with a synthesised voice. Another nifty feature, if you know how to say something in another language, but are not sure how to write it, this application will transpose your voice into text. Be creative and leave a voice message in a holiday greeting card or use QR Voice reflections at an art or design technology exhibition. In the future, QR Music (QR code discs) may replace existing music media. This is simply because the QR codes will hold more content in less space.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Cool new technology is using QR codes to create three-dimensional (3D) AR images; String AR Showcase is a good place to explore. After installing the application, you are directed to a website to print out a few pictures. You then use the application to scan the printed pictures and watch the 3D images appear. Or, if you are collecting resources for a project, try Daqri. This online tool allows you to add various types of content including AR images. You’ll find additional AR content at Google Sketchup Warehouse, Flat Pyramid and Turbosquid. The beauty is that others can share their thoughts by leaving comments for you.

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