QR Code Scanner

What is QR Code? What is Bar Code? How is QR Code different from Bar Code

Nowadays you can find QR codes everywhere,  on the shops to pay through digital wallet application, on items that you buy, on WhatsApp. It works instantly, you just need to press the scan button in the mobile wallet app and it shows the retail shop’s name, and you fill the amount to pay. You see Barcodes when you buy things?  But what are QR Codes? What are Bar codes? How QR code or Bar code stores information?  How you can generate your own QR Code? What is the difference between the QR code and Barcode? What are the benefits of the QR code?

What is QR code?

Quick Response code, also known as QR code. It is replacing the barcode which is alternating black and white lines.  Unlike a regular barcode, a QR code is two-dimensional, i.e. it contains information both in vertical and horizontal directions. Like a barcode, it also contains machine-readable information concerning the item to which it is attached. Information is encoded in QR code in the form of numeric, alphanumeric, binary & kanji (Japanese word).

QR code was developed by a Japanese firm, Denso Wave (Toyota Subsidiary) in 1994 to improve operational efficiency for manufacturing automobiles. It is an open source technology. QR codes have long since expanded their usefulness beyond the automotive industry. They’re used today in everything from inventory tracking, to shipping and logistics, to online ticketing. Bands put them on fliers to link to their videos on YouTube or set reminders for upcoming shows. Businesses use it to put Google Maps directions on a business card, automatically load a web page, or send a text/email to the company helpline Now QR codes are adopted on large scale by corporations across the globe for purposes such as

You should only scan a QR code from a reliable source, as it could direct you to a website with malware. It’s very unlikely that a reputable company would send its customers to anything malicious, but it’s worth considering what you scan.

  • Websites
  • App store – application link
  • Posters, – give event URL
  • Business cards,
  • Brochures,
  • Product packagings,
  • Books,
  • Tickets, – information about the ticket
  • Flyers
  • Google Map – to give someone location
  • File download – download a music clip, pdf etc
  • Wifi access
  • ID cards
  • Warehouse and storage facility etc.

What information is in the QR code?

The black dots are arranged according to an algorithm in the QR code to store information. The image below shows different areas of a QR code.

  • The three large squares act as alignment targets, while the smaller square in pink is alignment marker acts to normalize the size and angle of the shot.
  • The yellow parts contain formatting information,
  • The timing code shows how big the code is.
  • The remaining area is the actual data that’s converted into binary code and checked for errors before being displayed. The encoded data can be interpreted as one of four primary modes—numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and Japanese writing characters Kanji.
  • Reed-Solomon code is applied to restore the data when a part of QR code is missing or damaged
Sections in QR code
Sections in QR code

As QR code technology evolved, it began to contain more and more information. The initial version was 21 x 21 pixels and held just 4 characters worth of data. The most recent version,40th, is 177 pixels square, and it holds 1852 characters—enough for a few pages of information

There are different types of QR codes as they have different features and data capacities. QR codes are classified into

  • Model 1,
  • Model 2
  • Micro QR.

“Version” indicates the size (number of modules) of a QR code. A larger version contains greater data.  The standard version is 21 x 21 modules (MicroQR has 11 x 11 modules), and as version increases, 4 modules (2 modules for MicroQR) are added on each side.

Static Vs Dynamic QR Code

If you want to change the data encoded into the QR code this would result is changing the QR code image too.  Dynamic QR Codes are the answer to How to update the information in a QR code that’s already been published?

  • Static QR Code: The actual destination website URL is placed directly into the QR code and can’t be modified.
  • Dynamic QR Code: A short URL is placed into the QR code which then transparently re-directs the user to the intended destination website URL, with the short URL redirection destination URL able to be changed after the QR code has been created.

Dynamic QR codes greatly extend the useful life of a single QR code since once published, where it sends the user to can be changed at will without it having to be replaced with a new QR code image every time the destination changes.

How to read(scan) the QR code?

The conventional one-dimensional barcodes used are mechanically scanned. That is, they’re read by physically bouncing a narrow beam of light onto the code, which can be interpreted using the pattern of light reflected off the white gaps between the lines. QR codes, on the other hand, can not only hold 100 times more data than 1D barcodes, but they can also be digitally scanned. The block of smaller black and white squares is read by a smart phone’s image sensor, then interpreted by the system processor.

QR codes have gained popularity due to the rise of smartphones. There are QR code reader apps that can be downloaded for free on smartphones. You can just scan the QR code using the app on your phone and the pre-determined action (like opening a website, sending a tweet, download an app etc.) attached to the code is triggered.

If you have used WhatsApp on your computer https://web.whatsapp.com/ then you must have seen the QR code and the ways to access it

QR code examples
QR code examples

How to create a QR code?

You can create QR code for yourself free of cost. There are many websites which can be used to create a QR code manually. You can download the QR code and place it on your websites, brochures, marketing material etc for your appropriate use. Given below are a list of QR code generator websites :

The image below shows the QR code generator qrstuff.com. Note the Data type (on the LHS of the image) ex: Website URL, YouTube Video , Email address, etc for which you can generate your own QR code. You have an option of generating Static/Dynamic QR Code. You can also add a logo. Note: These features require a paid subscription.

QR code generator
QR code generator

What is BarCode? What information is stored in the Barcode?

A barcode is a square or rectangular image consisting of a series of parallel black lines and white spaces of varying widths that can be read by a scanner. Barcodes are applied to products as a means of quick identification. They are used in retail stores as part of the purchase process, in warehouses to track inventory, and on invoices to assist in accounting, among many other uses.

You need to pay to get BarCode. GS1 is a not-for-profit, global entity that manages and standardizes barcodes across India. GS1 sets standards and manages the barcode standard used by retailers, manufacturers and suppliers. The pricing for barcode registration in India varies based on the number of barcodes required, annual turnover of the company and the number of years barcode subscription is sought for. More details on How to Get Barcode in India

The Barcode was invented by Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver and patented in the US in 1952 (US Patent 2,612,994). The invention was based on the Morse code that was extended to thin and thick bars. However, it took over twenty years before this invention became commercially successful. Barcodes became commercially successful when they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems. A pack of Wrigley’s gum was the first item ever scanned, at Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio, in 1974.

It can store alphanumeric, numeric or only alphabets. This data holds information about a specific product. The information (number) may vary according to the application of the barcode.

Video on How Barcode has simplified Life

Types of Bar Codes

There are two general types of barcodes: 1-dimensional (1D) and 2-dimensional (2D).

1D barcodes are a series of lines used to store text information, such as product type, size, and colour.

  • Uniform Product Code (UPC) is issued universally for a retail product. UPC stores 12 digit number. The first 6 numbers are for identifying the manufacturer. The next 5 digit is to identify the item. Last one digit is to help the scanner check whether it is scanned properly or not.
  • Another application of barcode is to identify books. All the books bear an ISBN, International Standard Book Number which is printed on the back of a book, issued by an international agency.

2D barcodes are more complex and can include more information than just text, such as the price, quantity, and even an image. For that reason, linear barcode scanners can’t read them, though smartphones and other image scanners will.

There are more than a dozen barcode variations, however, depending on the application, some of which are shown in the image below

Bar code examples
Bar code examples

Video on what Information is stored in BarCode? Decoding Barcodes

Barcodes have revolutionized modern life. Discover what happens every time you hear a beep at the checkout.

How does QR code differ from Barcode?

Sr No Barcode QR code
1 Single dimension code Two dimension code
2 To read the barcode, scanner need to be aligned according to the code It can be read in any direction, need not be aligned
3 No data correction. Barcode needs to be printed correctly. If a QR code has an error of upto 30%, it can be read
4 The application is very limited for products, books, pin code,  and can only store numerical data. A wider range of application, as mentioned earlier.
5 One cannot put a logo or image in a barcode. Companies put logo and images
6 Limited storage capacity. It can store only alphanumeric characters. Comparatively very large storage capacity. It can store alphanumeric characters, kanji (japanese symbols), binary information.
7 Dependent on the database It can be used independently

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BarCodes and QR Codes have revolutionized many spheres of the business and its processes. If there are any interesting facts or anything related to QR code or Bar Code you would like to share with us or our readers then do comment below and let us know.

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