If you've seen some black and white squares that sort of look like squiggly barcodes, your eyes aren't deceiving you. They're called QR codes, and they're on the verge of being the next big thing on your mobile phone. With everything from store coupons to directions to a restaurant, QR codes aren't new, but they're becoming more popular.
"QR stands for 'quick response.' It's a barcode format that came out of Japan in 1994 and slowly it's been migrating into the consumer market in the United States,” explains Patrick Donnelly, CEO of QR Arts.
A simple scan with your smartphone puts more information in the palm of your hand.
“You scan it, and the stuff pops up on your screen. So this could be a video, it could be a coupon or could even be a mobile website,” says Donnelly.
The QR code for Policy, a restaurant in Washington, D.C., brings up the menu, directions, and the ability to make plans on the go.
“You can also do your reservation, so it'll take you right to the reservation place where you can go ahead and book your reservation as well,” says Asim Walla, Policy proprietor.
QR codes are catching on with retailers too, like at Best Buy, where shoppers can scan QR codes on price tags.
“It gives the customers the ability to get all the information from the product, be able to compare multiple products by scanning the different QR codes with each of the price tags. And they can do a lot of research by themselves both at home and in the store,” said John Mowry Best Buy Mobile.
So the next time you spot one of those squares, take aim with your smartphone, and see what you find.