A QR code is a conduit for passing along information from the internet to a smartphone user. It takes the form of a complex arrangement of tiny black squares within a square grid; when a smartphone’s camera scans that arrangement, it detects and presents to the user whatever information the QR code’s creator wants the person to see.
QR codes appear on food products, pamphlets, signs, buildings and, most recently, on the television screen, floating slowly so viewers can take a photo on their smartphone and see whatever an advertiser wants to sell.
But anyone can play. Via a QR code, someone interested in the history of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville can learn it received its name from the celebration of feast day for St. Luke the Evangelist. Returning a package online is easy when clicking on a CQ code and following the directions found there. Taking a tour of historical sites saves time because the information can be emailed or shared and read later.
Suddenly, QR codes are the touch-free, money-and-time-saving way to do all kinds of things.
The initials QR stand for Quick Response. Such a code is a shortcut to any website that the creator of the code chooses. Also, they convey many other kinds of information their creators want to use. They are a new tool of communication and marketing in the digital world.
First developed in 1994, the codes seemed to fall from favor until the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were afraid to touch restaurant menus, computer screens or buttons in an elevator.
Event organizers found a way to save money when publishing detailed fliers. Organizers can only mention the event and add a QR code to tell people everything that will take place. Churches save money by posting a QR code on a screen or a printed bulletin that tells the visitors how to become a member or join a Bible class.
One fan of 21st-century hieroglyphics is a computer science professor at Jacksonville State University, David Thornton.
“One example of how I use them is during a PowerPoint presentation,” he said. “Sometimes people will say the presentation was good and ask for a copy. Rather than having to email each person a file, I will stick a QR code on the first screen, they can scan it and have a copy of the presentation.”
Brent Cunningham, the interim dean of business at JSU, saves roll-call time by posting a QR code that students use to show they are present in class.