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What Is a QR Code and How Do I Use It?

by Jimi Gonzalez

It seemed like QR Codes were everywhere you looked at Infocomm. You couldn’t miss them on business cards, signage, and in exhibitor’s booths. Short for “Quick Response”, QR Codes are barcodes capable of storing much more information than a typical UPC. When you use an app on your camera phone to photograph a QR Code, it can open a web page, send a text message, connect your phone to a wireless network, or display text or contact information. Using a QR Code is called “mobile tagging” and it’s a marketer’s dream, connecting real-world objects to online destinations.

QR Codes are big in Japan, popular in Europe and starting to catch on in the US where marketers seem to be putting them on everything, regardless of whether it makes sense or if the public knows what to do with them. In a Trade Show environment, like Infocomm, the benefits are obvious. For years, product cut sheets have been disappearing from the trade show floor, with most exhibitors preferring to scan your badge and follow up with a blast of mostly irrelevant information. With QR Codes placed next to products, attendees can quickly view a web page with additional information about exactly what they are interested in. Savvy Exhibitors can then gauge interest in products by tracking web site visits during the show.

So, how do QR Codes apply to System Integrators? First, you need to make sure that your staff has an awareness of QR Codes and how to use them. If you are involved in digital signage, they will be included in the content that you create or manage. In the coming years, they will likely replace serial numbers on equipment and circuit boards due to the amount of information that can be stored in a relatively small space. No more having to squint to read some long alphanumeric code, you’ll be able to use your camera phone to learn an abundance of information such as the date and location of manufacture, original firmware version, quality control details, as well as the model and serial number.

When it comes to promoting our own companies, QR Codes certainly present an opportunity, but since they are perceived as high tech marketing and we’re in the technology business, we need to make sure we are using them correctly and effectively. For example, since people will be using a mobile phone to view your QR Code, you want to make sure that the web page you send them to is mobile friendly. Remember that iPhone or iPad users will not be able to navigate your website if you use Flash.

QR codes can be used in your traditional print advertising such as magazines, newspapers, and direct mail. They can also be placed on company vehicles and office windows. Also consider adding a QR Code with your contact information on equipment rack logo panels so users can quickly call next time they need service or an upgrade.

It’s time to get tagging. If you’d like to start using QR Codes, they can be created quickly and for free. Visit for a popular and easy QR Code generator.

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.