QR codes have become part of everyday life. But this morning I was momentarily taken aback to see that apparently I had to scan a QR code to check in to my breakfast yoghurt. Well, no, not really. It did make me realise, though, that I didn’t even know what ‘QR’ stands for.
A QR code is a sort of two dimensional bar code on steroids. The letters stand for ‘Quick Response code’. The QR code was invented in 1994 by Masahiro Hara and used by a Japanese automotive company, Denso Wave, to track components in the vehicle manufacturing process.
QR codes can store far more information than barcodes and they are readable with digital devices like smartphones. They can link to URLs and websites. QR codes are still used to track products and product information through a supply chain, but they have many other uses. You can scan a QR code to view a menu and order meals, link a social profile or add friends to an account, board a flight, download an app, send and receive payments, access Wi-Fi. And of course, check in and out of every shop and café you visit.