What the heck is a QR code?!

22 May

Technology is amazing these days isn’t it?  If we need to know just about anything, we fire up the ole PC or Mac, and find our answers on the Internet in seconds.

Or, we can use our smart phones (Hmmm … does that make the rest dumb ones?) and find that answer while we are waiting for coffee at the Dunkin Doughnuts drive-through.

We can even watch the latest American Idol episode if we missed it, and evaluate Steven Tyler’s latest outfit.  (Not!)

Today’s “Take Note” is going to be all about this great technology called the “QR” code:  What is it, and some really cool thing people can do with YouTube videos already available online, or those we create with our own cameras!

So…what the heck IS a QR Code??

It wasn’t long ago when I was asking myself that same question.

A “QR” code is short for “Quick Response”.  QR codes function as mobile shortcuts to websites and videos. To me, it looks like a little box with black and white patterns and lines inside it.

There’s my technical definition.

Apparently very common in Japan, QR codes are now moving quickly into our part of the globe, as one of the next big techno things. And here’s why:  When you look in magazines (like the current edition of People), you’ll see a few ads for products like Splenda, Alpo, and even American Idol,  with QR codes on the page. In the next year, these little codes will start appearing everywhere!

When this code is scanned using the camera on a smart phone that has a free QR reader app downloaded on it, “POOF”… a video pops onto the phone and plays.

What will this technology do?

My favorite (non-SendOutCards!) example so far is Realtors. QR codes can be placed on FOR SALE signs in front of houses for sale. These codes can be linked to videos showing a virtual tour of a house.  So, anyone driving by — who knows the technology — can jump from their car, scan the QR code on the sign with their smart phone, and immediately see a tour of the house they’re sitting in front of.  Then decide whether or not to bother the Realtor.

Pretty cool, eh?

To access this technology for us regular folk, you first download a QR reader onto your smart phone. There are all kinds of free apps. Since I have an iphone, that’s the one I’ll mention here.

For me, I like one or two choices — for anything.  Like paint colors or tile for a bathroom floor. As my sister Nancy knows, I don’t function well with a store full of colors featuring 100 shades of white.

So the one app I heard about  — which is free — worked for me on many levels. It’s called “Inigma”.  I downloaded this reader from the app store via my phone, and viola … it actually appeared!

What now? Well, I went out and bought the current issue of People. Found the Alpo advertisement with the QR code on the page, which miraculously scanned the first time I tried it. Just waved the camera on my phone over the code and it did its thing!   Took me to a cute video of dogs running around, with the apparent subliminal message being these canines obviously have a great deal of energy from eating Alpo.  I have cats, so I wouldn’t know.

But … for me, first goal accomplished!

Next task?  How to get a video I took on my camera, of my kitties, uploaded to YouTube.

Once I shot the 30 second video of them with my trusty Coolpix camera, I took that little SD card out, popped it into the computer, clicked around a little with the mouse, and up went the video onto YouTube.  (It’s easy to create your own YouTube account!).  This little “url”, or path name, for my kitty video, was miraculously created.

Yes! The final goal was in sight!

Since my technical ability is sometimes limited to the “power on” button of most new hi-tech gadgets that come into our home, I was now impressed at this extreme progress made without multiple, frustrating calls to customer support centers as is usually my MO.

A problem existed however. The video itself was just … well … not good.  Kitties didn’t do what I wanted them to do, which was to look at me, or at least glance my way as I was meowing, and making noises to get them to look at the camera. They were content to sit there and clean.

Once I gave up, I, of course, forgot to turn off the camera, so there are upside down views of the desk, chair and floor.

But the video WAS now on YouTube. I had that url and was ready to place my kitty video — via a QR code I was about to create —  into, what else?? A greeting card!

Yep, SendOutCards is one of the first companies in the country to offer this QR video technology to the consumer.

Since I wanted a sample card to show people my techno prowess, here’s what happened next:  I chose a pre-designed birthday card from the 15,000 cards on the SendOutCards site.  Once inside the card, with the click of a mouse, I pasted the YouTube url into a special place on the SendOutCards site. A QR code was automatically generated, and now available to place into the card — just like a picture.  Then, I dragged and dropped an instructional graphic into the card to help people know what to do, and …


How’s that for technology?

And … believe it or not, you can scan the QR code you see here, right from your computer screen via your smart phone, and you’ll see a video.  It will NOT, however, be my kitty video. Am too embarrassed for people to hear me actually meowing.

So what I did was make another QR code out of a YouTube video link sent to me (Thank you Susan!!) and uploaded that into the sample birthday card.

It shows … well … I’m not going to tell you!  You’ll have to take a few minutes, upload a QR reader app to your phone, and scan the code!    What you will see IS very cool. (My only comment on this video: some people have WAY too much time on their hands.)

What kinds of things are people going to be able to do with greeting cards and this technology? To name just a few, how about:

Parents sending cards to grandparents with their grandchildren on a video
Save the Date announcements for weddings (Meet the bride and groom!)
Thank you cards for wedding, birthday and holiday gifts
Marketing tools in any industry
Executives sending heartfelt messages of appreciation to valued employees
New baby – greeting card announcement with pictures AND video!!
Family or class reunion (embarrassing moments captured forever)
Fundraising (We need your help!)

So there is my version of this new technology.

If anyone has a fun YouTube video they want to put into a card and send to some unsuspecting soul … send it on me!!

1 Comment

Posted by on May 22, 2011 in Cool Card Stories


One response to “What the heck is a QR code?!

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