I’m impressed with Quick Response Codes (QR Codes). They’re 2D barcodes that you can encode with a variety of information including urls, contact details, sms and text. I’d thought they were mainly for asset tracking on a production line until last week. More info at wikipedia

I was at an Edutxt conference at Clydebank College and I noticed Andy Ramsden had QR codes on his PowerPoint Presentation. With the appropriate software on your mobile phone you could have pointed your built-in camera at his presentation and downloaded it (assuming you had a data connection on your phone), added his contact details and filled in an sms message all from pointing your mobile phone camera at his QR codes. Nothing to write down or remember.

I was intrigued by this so did some further research. What do you need to recognise QR codes on your phone? There are various free QR code readers out there including neoreader, kaywa and quickmark. You don’t need a particularly high end phone either. I’ve got it working on my Sony Ericsson k800i. It’s also running on my ASUS P750 phone.

How would you use QR codes yourself? I can imagine them being useful on such thing as posters advertising events, conferences and resources. Students could point their mobile phone cameras at them and have instant access to the information. In a lecture, students could point their mobiles at your PowerPoint presentation to download it or save urls for later use. There are a number of QR code generator sites out there to make your own codes. I used kaywa.

In summary

1. Download the appropriate software for your phone. I’ve used quickmark here.

2. Start the software. Point your camera at a qr code

I did a mock up of one of Craig’s Accessibility and Inclusion posters and put a small QR code at the bottom.

3. Look at the information

I generated the code to have a url address. If you generate the code at kaywa you have 4 options: url, text, sms or phone number. In this case Craig’s Accessibility and Inclusion Blog address. If I click on “Access” on the bottom bar it will take me straight to the blog. I can also save the Url, send it as an email or sms message all without writing anything down or having to remember an address.

Here’s the QR code which will take you directly to Craig’s blog if you have the software installed on your phone.

And if you’re easily amused like me you’ll want to check out your new qr code reader software with all different types of QR codes and Flickr has loads of them

Finally, I see that Samsung have just hooked up with Scanbuy to install a barcode reader on their phones. The whole 2D barcode thing could become more commonplace in the near future.

Update: Just came across semapedia.org which generates wikipedia qr codes and creates a pdf for you to print out. Also of interest if you scroll down to the bottom of the page it has a 2D barcode reader selector for mobile phones. Select the phone type and model you have and it will show you the software that will run on your phone. Seems pretty comprehensive.