Aug 15 2012
QR or Quick Response codes are handy little bar codes that can store data like numbers, websites and text. They’ve been used in many boring ways before, but now I’ll show you some offbeat and fun ways to use them to your advantage.
Reminders for friends/family
Do people complain about your handwriting? Instead of leaving handwritten reminders or notes, you can generate a QR code with a reminder message that you want to convey to friends or family. Create your QR code using one of the listed services in the box, print it and place it somewhere with high visibility (like the fridge). Anyone can quickly scan the QR code using a phone or tablet to view the reminder on their screen.
Use them as clues for a treasure hunt
A treasure hunt normally has a series of clues which leads to a final treasure — in this case, you can replace the text clues with printed QR codes to make a ‘geeky’ treasure hunt. To make things harder as the hunt progresses, the initial clues can be simple text and later ones can be websites. You can also check out www.qrwild.com — a place where you can create and play your own game using game pieces placed online or in the real world.
Logon to a secure Wi-Fi network
On www.qrstuff.com, you can generate a QR code to let anyone connect to a protected Wi-Fi once they scan it. You will need to enter the Wi-Fi network name (SSID), password and the type of security before generating the code. Once done, anyone who scans the code from their phone will automatically be able to join the network without having to manually enter the password or search for the network (works with Android only).
Include on visiting cards
Most QR code generation websites let you create a code that incorporates all your contact information to create a virtual visiting card (vCard). You can include your name, company title, phone number, website and other relevant information (preferably on the back of the card). With a code like this printed on your visiting card, anyone can scan the card to instantly get all your details on their phone for a quick save.
Print ‘For Sale’ signs
QR codes are great for ‘For Sale’ signs — especially when you want to sell your car. An interested (and tech-savvy) passerby may not have enough time to note down the details in text, but he/she can quickly scan the code to get more details about the item on sale, your name and your contact number. You can also link to photos of the item on a Flickr or Picasa page so that interested buyers can view more detailed images.
Use in email signatures
QR codes can be scanned off a screen, so it makes sense for you to include one in your email signature. Normally, this code will duplicate what the signature already says in text but can vary depending on whether you use it for personal or professional use. To do this, first create your QR code using one of the methods outlined in the box (right) and then host the image on any image hosting site (like http://imgur.com). Get the direct link to the image and add it to your email signature.
A skilled tattoo artist will be able to recreate a working QR code tattoo (in different colors) on various parts of your body. It’s the ultimate in geek street cred — your tattooed QR code could have your personal website, number, Facebook/Twitter handle or anything else you want. Just make sure that the code has sharp lines and is tattooed large enough to be easily read by a scanning camera (roughly 1.5 to 2 inches square at least.
Print QR codes on T-shirts, keychains…
On www.qrhacker.com (free sign-up required), you can generate (incorporate text, website, phone number or a virtual card) and customise your QR code’s look with different colours. It can even be set to show a picture in the background or foreground. Once you have your designer code, you can get it printed on a T-shirt, keychain or other personal merchandise to share information.
How to Create & Read a QR Code
QR codes can be created very quickly for free. They can be saved on your computer as PDF files or JPEG/PNG image files. Head to sites like http://beqrious.com, www.azonmedia.com or www.qrstuff. com. You can generate a QR code pointing to a website, to a Google Maps location, with plain text, linking to a Facebook/Twitter page or to directly update a social network by just scanning the code. Type the relevant information in the corresponding box on the website and it will generate a QR code for free. To make a QR code that looks a little out of the ordinary, you can change the foreground/background colour and add a photograph or logo into the code. To read QR codes, you need a QR code scanner app on your smartphone. Google Goggles and NeoReader are free apps that work great on Android, Windows Phone and iOS devices. If you have a BlackBerry, check out QR Code Scanner Pro. All that you need to do is launch the app, point the phone’s camera towards the code and it will automatically show you the contents. Make sure that your phone has a working data connection (Wi-Fi or cellular) in order to view or act on the information provided.