Udayavni Special

Invented for Automotive industry, how QR code has become a game changer


Shivani Kava, Jul 21, 2021, 11:08 AM IST

Source: unsplash

The use of QR codes has seen a massive surge in recent times, as multitudes of companies have been using them for everything from advertising and promotions to merchandise tracking and coupons, and more. Contactless payments via QR codes, especially in times of pandemic, have become a common sight as more consumers prefer this over the traditional payments method.

But little do we know about how QR codes came into being or who invented it. Hop on while we present you with the little-known history of QR Code development.

Quick response or QR Code was invented in Japan by a development team led by Masahiro Hara for the company Denso Wave in the year 1994.

Their task was to create a barcode that could easily track automobiles and automobile parts during manufacturing. At this time, they did not expect it to be used outside of the automotive industry.

As a result of his efforts, the QR Code was adopted by the auto industry, contributing greatly to making their management work efficient for a wide range of tasks from production to shipping to the issuing of transaction slips.

Later the QR codes went on to replace the Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode, which is still prevalent.

“A QR code is characterized by a two-dimensional pattern of square black and white dots,”  and with this pattern, it is possible to imbed 200 times more information than a standard barcode. These codes can basic information like links to websites or large volumes of data consisting of over 4,200 alphanumeric characters that are encoded into the patterns. All one has to do is scan the QR code.

Hara has confessed that the inspiration for the technology came from his penchant for playing strategy games. He said, “ One day while arranging the black and white pieces on the grid, it hit me that it represented a straightforward way of conveying information. It was a eureka moment.”

Though Hara gets the credit for the invention of QR codes, Denso’s development team is responsible for building the codes into what they are today.

As Denso lacked the resources to develop the technology on its own, they chose to make the patents open in the hopes that other companies would use QR codes.

What followed is that firms around the country were utilizing the technology.

Due to the advent of mobile phones with cameras, the QR codes went on to rule the world so much so that  QR code menus and QR codes on tables in bars and restaurants are a thing now. The QR Code became an indispensable medium that could store a great deal of information on these processes.

As the QR Code is an open code that anyone is allowed to use, it is used not only in Japan but also in countries all over the world.

New types of QR Code to meet more sophisticated needs were created one after another from micro QR Code to meet the need for smaller codes and iQR Code, which has a small footprint despite its large coding capacity and which allows the use of rectangular code modules.

QR codes are easy to create and maintain. But beware of the QR code security risks involved with free only QR code generators.

In 2014, the QR Code development team was awarded the Popular Prize (winner selected from among the finalists from votes by the public), receiving a high evaluation because the QR Code was widely recognized by general consumers in a large number of regions and age groups.

As Mark Twain famously said, “Accident is the name of the greatest of all inventors,” QR codes are a boon to the world.

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