Episode 316 of the Toronto Real Estate Musing daily video blog.
They’re not messages for extra-terrestrials – these square black and white symbols are being increasingly used by businesses to connect with mobile customers. George O’Neill shows you how.
These symbols are called 2D barcodes, and are used for camera-equipped smartphones to analyze and access bits of information such as website URLs and phone numbers. One of the most popular forms of 2D barcode, called a QR Code, is heavily used in techo-centric Japan since 1994 but has only just recently grown in popularity in North America. “QR” stands for “Quick Response”.
The big marketing advantage to QR codes is convenience. Customers can, for example, instantly access your website from their mobile phone without having to fumble with a touchscreen or tiny keyboard to type in the address.
At O’Neill Real Estate, we put a QR code on every For Sale sign, so that passerby can quickly pull up information, photos and video on the property. I put one on the back of my Smart car too. This way, when stopped at a traffic light, someone behind me can take a photo of the barcode through their windshield.
QR codes can also be placed on flyers, business cards, posters and even websites and videos. (If you pause the video at the right spot, your phone can even recognize the QR code on the trunk of my car!)
With more and more people adopting smartphones, you will see QR codes more and more often in mobile marketing.
How to make your own QR codes
Visit this QR-Code generator to make your own QR codes as JPEGs.
How to read QR codes
First, you need a QR code supported device, such as:
- An Apple iPhone or a camera-equipped iPod Touch
- A Blackberry device made since 2009 (i.e. Blackberries running Blackberry OS 5.0 or higher)
- An Android smartphone
- A Nokia S60, Palm or Windows Mobile smartphone
Second, you need a barcode reading app on your phone. Most of them are free. Here are our recommendations:
- Apple: I use Welt Kompakt’s QRCode, a free, fast and no frills app.
- Blackberry: It’s already built into Blackberry Messenger 5.0.
- Android: Download the free Barcode Scanner app.
- For other makes and models, try the free ScanLife application.
To access a QR code, activate your barcode reading app and position the camera over the code. Depending on the lighting, you may need to move closer to the code for the program to recognize it. And that’s it!