BOSTON (CBS) — It’s a technology that’s existed in other parts of the world for years, and now it’s catching on the U.S.
QR Codes, which stands for Quick Read Codes, can be seen everywhere from business cards to magazines to posters.
Thousands of people see a QR Code every day on the T, in an ad for the Museum of Science. They’re those odd-looking black and white boxes packed with tiny dots and they can unlock lots of information.
WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports
“It’s a lot like a bar code except they’re squares and you can store information in the black and white dots,” said Charles Jolley, of Strobe, Inc. “You can keep a lot of different things in there, telephone numbers, URL’s, links to web sites, addresses, even photographs and any kind of text you want.”
QR Codes were created in Japan in 1994, and in that country they’re even being used in cemeteries to provide information about people who have died.
A smart phone is necessary in order to scan a QR Code. There are dozens of apps that can be used, and they can be found simply by searching QR Code in a phone’s app store. When using one of these programs the app will use the phone’s camera as a scanner to capture the code. Whatever information is embedded in the code will show up on the phone.
“When a couple is out looking at houses and they come across a property they like they can just walk up to that property, wave their cell phone in front of the QR Code on the real estate for-sale sign and call up instantly all the data concerning that property,” said realtor Allan Knowles.
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Radio.com, a division of CBS, uses QR Codes on its website. Android users can scan the code to download the Radio.com app and listen to stations such as WBZ NewsRadio 1030 and 98.5 The Sports Hub live on their phones.
QR codes can be made for free. There are several sites that allow users to put in information and the code will be created. They then can be printed out on business cards, stickers, hats, even t-shirts.
Jeff Cutler, a Hingham journalist and social media guru, made a trading card that features a QR Code. Scanning it gets access to contact information and his websites. He’s also had a name tag with a QR Code on it for a couple of years that he wears to events.
It’s a habit that’s catching on. Now there are more people attending social media meetings and social events who are wearing name tags simply with a QR Code. Other attendees can scan the code and then that information can easily be saved in the phone; some apps will even do it automatically.
But it’s not just for contact information. Chef José Duarte of Boston’s North End restaurant Taranta has been experimenting with calamari ink to create QRCodes on diners’ plates leading to information of where the food originated.