What QR Codes (2D Barcodes) Are – And Their Uses For Your Business

Have you seen one of these square garbled-looking images before? You may have seen them on a subway poster or at an airline boarding pass or on mailers. This article will give you a little background on what they are and how they can be useful to you and your company.

What is a QR Code?

QR code (abbreviation for Quick Response code) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera telephones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data. [Wikipedia]

According to Wikipedia,

the technology has seen frequent use in Japan, The Netherlands and South Korea, while the West has been slower in the adoption of QR codes.

I got a box of KitKat last summer from Japan (thanks, Shin) that had a QR code on it. It’s slowly but surely picking up on the East Coast, as well. E.g. BJs and other companies are using them on their savings cards.

Barcodes vs. QR-Codes


Picture of a Traditional Barcode

QR-Codes have become more popular than the typical barcode as the typical barcode can only hold about of 20 digits, whereas the QR-Code can hold up to 7,089 characters. This makes the use and diversity of QR-Codes much more appealing than their older counter part, the barcode.

Partially part of the reason QR-Codes can hold more data, is because if you compare a typical barcode to a QR-Code, you can see one major difference; barcodes only span horizontally whereas QR-Codes can span both horizontally and vertically.


A great feature of QR-Codes is that you do not need to scan them from one particular angle. QR-Codes are capable of omnidirectional (360 degree’s) high-speed reading. QR-Codes scanners are capable of determining the correct way to decode the content within the QR-Code due to the three specific squares that are positioned in the corners of the symbol.

QR-Code scanner uses three corners as markers, regardless of pistion scanned

Generating QR Codes

There are a number of web sites for generating QR codes and most services they offer for free. You can also generate QR Codes with Google Charts or right in a FileMaker database, which we will demo at Devcon. The demo database uses the ScriptMaster plug-in from 360 Works and some java goodies put to use by Scott Shackelford at AEON Development Group.

Here’s a great article from Mashable on how you can make your QR codes more appealing like this. Make sure you pay attention that your code is still readable.

blue qr image

Uses for QR Codes

The uses are only limited by your imagination, but let me give you some ideas:

QR Codes can be used:

  • On your business card (vCard);
  • Your brochures and other marketing materials;
  • The sides of trucks and trailers;
  • Product tags and packaging;
  • Convention and event nametags;
  • Restaurant menus;
  • Event ticket stubs;
  • Point-of-sale receipts, etc.

Reading QR Codes:

There are several apps for smartphones that can read QR Codes. Barcode Scanner for Android and QR Reader for iPhone and iPod Touch (with camera).
QR Codes could link to:

  • Installation instructions
  • Contact information
  • Sources for replacement parts and service
  • Map and directions to your business
  • Coupons and special offers
  • Free software downloads
  • Customer feedback forms

ZeroBlue offers two Bluetooth 2D scanners:

  1. Koamtac KCD 300
  2. Socket CHS 7X

Both scanners work with 1D barcodes, as well. The Socket scanner is also ruggedized; withstands multiple 5-foot drops to concrete. Dust, shock, and water-resistant.

If you’d like to implement QR code printing or scanning in your business contact us.

11 replies
  1. Steve says:

    Interesting article. I noticed that in the screenshot of the FileMaker database the QR code doesn’t have the 3 squares on the corners. Is that not required or just missing from the screenshot?

  2. Raul says:

    I’m using https://uqr.me It has a lot of functionalities and offer the possibility of changing colors, insert objects and rounded squares corners.
    There are several modules for both social and commercial uses. Free accounts and premium accounts at low prices

  3. Randyb2 says:

    I’m new to all this, but very interesting.  You mention QR codes can be used on brochures and other promotion materials;  what information can be transferred by this method?   

    • Anonymous says:

      Any numeric or alphanumeric characters can be stored and read form a QR code. At FileMaker Devcon we printed labels for the attendees with a QR code containing their vCard information. You can endcode a lot of information in a QR code. If you need help implementing QR code generation, we can help you.

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