Dubai: All the wow factor might have been monopolised by 3D, but in one corner of the tech industry a two-dimensional format continues to hold its own.
Quick-Response codes can be defined as a 2D barcode that can be scanned by a smartphone's camera and then transferred.
Based on the type of code, it might direct the viewer to a website, make a phone call, deliver electronic business cards (vCard), stream a video, or deliver special offers.
It can store up to 4,296 alphanumeric or 7,089 numeric characters.
Depending on the level of error correction applied, QR codes can restore between 7 to 30 per cent of the missing data.
Using a QR code, a business can provide another way to aid customers obtain information about itself.
"What's most exciting is how they take what social media is doing now — bringing people together with technology — and extending it to enhance the experience," said Dilip Paliyath, chief executive officer at YoSpace International, a marketing firm.
"The next generation of barcodes will hold even more information, so much that an internet connection will not even be necessary. The content will be effectively embedded in the code."
Dubai Municipality recently launched a ‘Digital City' project in which each building will receive a QR code embedded with all details related to it and the plot.
The initial phase of the project will see the municipality allotting unique QR codes to services offered by its various departments.
By scanning the codes, users can quickly access the desired e-services from the municipality through their mobile phones.
QR codes are extensively used in Japan where they were invented.
The concept is a registered trademark of Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota. Denso Wave elected not to exercise their patent right and has encouraged their widespread use.
Other software companies have created 2D codes that work much like QR codes. For instance, Microsoft has a proprietary software to create codes known as MS tags. Unlike QR codes, which can be read by a number of different readers, these can only be read by the Microsoft Tag Reader.
QR codes are bound to become more common in the near term. With the increasing reliance on mobile devices, the typing out URLs or other data on tiny keyboards is still not all that efficient.
The squares of elaborately arranged boxes that a QR code represents are a shortcut around that problem. They can easily be integrated with various services and incorporate geo-location data. "The best and most efficient use of QR codes is as part of a multi-media advertising strategy," said Rohan Britto, founder of MoSecure.
"[The] use of QR codes will allow you to integrate and tie all your off-line and on-line advertising channels together. [Their] efficient use should help the typical small business or auto dealer to reduce advertising seepage and waste, while increasing inquiries, leads, conversions and sales." Creating QR codes is easy — just do a search on Google or Bing and you will find the tools.
To see how useful QR codes can be to measure the engagement of the target audience, businesses could consider investing more time and money to ensure the experience future users have is as enriching as possible.
How to enable your smartphone
Those with an iPhone, BlackBerry, Android powered handset or a Nokia will, by adding a free barcode scanner and reader application, get access to all of the information the Quick Response codes hold. Newer smartphones have QR code readers built into them.
For iPhones users, try the ‘QR Code Reader and Scanner'; for Androids users, try the ‘barcode scanner'; while BlackBerry users have ‘ScanLife' at their disposal.
Newer BlackBerry handsets have a scan feature in BlackBerry Messenger installed into the handset.
Nokia's Symbian operating system is provided with a barcode scanner, which is able to read QR codes, while mbarcode is a QR code reader for the Maemo operating system.
Once the application is open, direct the camera at the QR code and after a couple of seconds the contents will open directly on the phone.