QR Tags

QR Tag
QR Tag

The odd looking image here isn’t a Rorschach blot.

Its actually a QR code, something that is old news in Japan, but never quite managed to take off in North America.

In this particular case, assuming you had a QR code reader (in Japan apparently most cell phones do), the image encodes a link back to this website.

If you want one of your own, you can go here to get one: http://www.qrtag.net.

Now I just need to figure out how to get my phone to read them…

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12 responses on “QR Tags

    1. Jeremy Lichtman Post author

      Thanks Johann. It interesting how this is all old hat in the rest of the world, but it never really caught on in North America.

  1. Elie

    The National Post uses these for loading articles from the paper each day. They’re also used in passport applications for a US passport (I just renewed mine, so I recognized what it was immediately). The National Post is trying to get this to catch on, probably because it will save them significantly on the costs of printing papers if enough people start using this form of media.

    1. Jeremy Lichtman Post author

      Cool. I haven’t read an actual paper newspaper in a good long while. I might need to pick one up just to test out QR reader software on my phone.

  2. sol

    I think I’ve seen these things on some shipping boxes now and then, and I think once in retail, they had them on the tags on the shelves and the staff could scan them with portable scanners…

    Just out of curiosity, how much data can be encoded in one of these images? QRTag.net seems to be saying that you can only store 23 characters ( ~180 bytes?) in the tag, but I would have thought you could get qutie a bit more in there.
    Wasn’t someone (Microsoft) perhaps also at one point trying to push higher resolution colour versions of these things, could store much (but don’t remember HOW much) more data? I vaguely recall seeing samples that were in CMYK colours, each quadrant of the whole image in either cyan/white, magenta/white, yellow/white, or black/white… what ever happened to that?

    1. Jeremy Lichtman Post author

      I think the Microsoft one stored around 3000 characters. Or so Wikipedia said the last time I looked…

  3. Elie

    Odd that it can only store 180 characters. There are 625 spots on the image, which means that there are 2^625 possible ways to display this image, which is much more than 180 bytes.

    1. Jeremy Lichtman Post author

      Only some of the data points are meaningful for the data itself. I think there’s areas reserved for meta info. In addition, there’s several layers of redundancy built in, in order to allow for error correction etc. Plus I think there’s many areas that don’t have data meaning, which allows designers to put in pictures etc.

      The Microsoft version had a lot more data encoding capacity. It didn’t look at pretty IMHO though.

  4. sol

    It turns out this was a timely article. I’m starting to see these things pop up all over Toronto. About 2 or 3 weeks ago an add on the entrance to St. Andrew’s station had a beer ad (Stella Artois, I think?) with a HUGE tag on it (and even instructions on how to use it!), and now today I see that the Metro paper is using them beside their major articles for links to more content.
    How much redundancy is in these tags? If I took a magic marker and filled in one white square on the Stella ad outside the subway station, what website would I be taken to instead? That possibility could lead to some kind of tag vandalism where people use magic markers and whiteout to change a tag and redirect to the competition’s website. hehehe…

    1. Jeremy Lichtman Post author

      My guess is that there’s some redundancy built in. I think you’re right about what’s likely to happen with technically sophisticated vandals though.