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Scan Everything

It sounds like something from a James Bond film – take a picture of a code with your mobile phone and it will link you through to a website. Trend spotters suggest the QR Code will be one of the biggest Scaning Barcode revolutions to hit North American retail over the next three years. But in Japan, QR code technology is big business. Want to know the nutritional information about that McDonald’s cheeseburger you are eating? Just take a photo of the code printed on the packaging with your mobile and you are linked through to a website with the information.

QR Codes are being adopted for everything from in-store communications and loyalty offers to information points and links to social media websites.

What is a QR Code?

QR, or ‘quick-response’, codes are a form of two-dimensional code that are capable of encrypting large amounts of data in a square of black and white dots. The codes can hold more information than standard linear bar codes we see on the supermarket shelves and can be read by all mobile phones with cameras and software already installed – otherwise software can be downloaded online.

What makes QR codes so much better than a normal barcode is the fact that a normal barcode can only hold up to 20 digits and a QR code can hold over 7,000 digits. QR Codes are readable from 360° and contain information in both the vertical and horizontal, whereas a standard barcode contains data in only one direction.

Scanning QR Codes

If your smart phone has a camera then you can start scanning QR Codes. QR Code Readers app are available for download on all major platforms and almost all new smart phones, come with a QR Code Reader as a standard feature.

Once the reader is activated, aim the camera at the QR Code and within two to three seconds it prompts the launch of a website link, which can be viewed immediately on your smart phone.

Where can I use QR code?

Virtually anywhere! Thanks to this simple little code, any surface including your labels and packaging can become a portal to a new stream of information that can influence consumer behavior.

QR Codes are a fantastic opportunity to communicate to your customer, without increasing packaging size or label space. Using the mobile phone technology, it is possible to link to provenance stories about the product, or, indeed, stories behind the packaging, to far greater depth – including the use of video footage – all tailored to the mobile phone screen.

At Associated Labels you can find QR Codes on our shipping labels, promotional material and even delivery truck. These QR codes are an invitation for consumers to engage and learn more about our products and service on the go.

Generating QR Codes

QR Codes cost nothing to create and can be generated instantly online. You can generate your own QR codes instantly for free on many sites online, simply search: QR Code Generator.

Code Size

The larger the QR Code is, the more stable and easier it is to read for a QR code scanner. It is recommended that QR Code symbols be printed as large as possible within the available printing area.

The minimum dimensions of a QR code depend upon the resolving power of the cameras that are used to scan the code. It is recommended to use a minimum size of 32 x 32 mm or 1.25 x 1.25 inches, excluding quiet zone, for QR codes that contain a URL. This guarantees that all camera phones on the market can properly read the bar code. Changing the size to a width and height of 26 x 26 mm or roughly 1 square inch still covers 90% of the phones on the market. The latest camera models, which have improved macro capabilities, can however already deal with QR codes that are less than 10 mm (0.4.) wide and high.

For good reader accuracy good contrast between the background and the bar color itself is very important. The bar code should have a dark color on a light background. You cannot go wrong by treating the QR code as line art, using black on white. If the background needs to be in color, make sure that it is a solid color, not a screened tint. Avoid using cyan or magenta but a 100% yellow background should work fine. Very light Pantone colors might also work, as long as the contrast with the bar code is high enough.

The Quiet Zone

The QR Code symbol area requires a margin or “quiet zone” around it to be used.
Quiet Zone

The margin is a clear area around a symbol where nothing is printed. QR Code requires a four-module wide margin at all sides of a symbol. A module is the smallest pixel element of a QR Code.

For most phones a smaller quiet zone of 2 modules will work, but for optimum readability we recommend a 4 module quiet zone.