Walking the digital walk with QR codes

You have seen them on posters, tickets and billboards: the crazy looking inkdot images that are popping up everywhere.

They are called QR (Quick Response) codes and they are similar to the UPC (bar code) images you see on almost every product — you know the ones the supermarket checkout clerk scans as he or she rings up your groceries. The main difference is a QR code can store and deliver a lot more data than a standard bar code.

They can be used everywhere from marketing to education to entertainment. If you are out on the town and see a poster for a new play you want to see, you can quickly scan the QR code and your phone will take you to a web page where tickets are being sold or more information about the play is available. It is far less cumbersome than having to key in a web URL (address) yourself.

All you need to do to start discovering the usefulness of QR codes is load any one of dozens of QR code apps onto your Smartphone. Just go to your app store, search for QR codes and you’ll find a bunch of apps.

You install one (most are free) and when you see a QR code you want to interact with, launch the app, and point your camera at the code. When it fills the target area on your screen the app will automatically recognize the code, decode it and pop the information onto your screen. It could be a secret message, a price, a website, an address, anything.

You’ll likely see more and more uses for QR codes over the next few years. Currently they are popular for marketing and sales activities, but increasingly they’ll be used in entertainment (expect them on your TV very soon), in education, and even as a tool for tracking workflow.

Looking for some creative QR code ideas? Check out

Give it a shot — I have embedded a secret message in this code! Download a QR app, point your phone at the screen and decode my secret message!


Turning your data into a QR code is simple. Visit any one of dozens of sites (qrcode.kaywa.com/) and you can make your own.

It’s time to master the use of QR codes, fun, useful and efficient.

Steve Dotto is Canada’s most respected geek. For over 15 years, as host and executive producer of Dotto Tech, a nationally syndicated TV show, Steve has entertained and educated millions of Canadians on all aspects of technology. Steve has a passion for understanding the social impact of technology. His DVD Cybersafe with Steve Dotto , teaches parents and caregivers about the opportunities, dangers and challenges of social networking.