I was recently coaxed into attending a conference on eCommerce by my family and to say that it was a real eye opener is a bit of an understatement. I have a notebook full of scribble that I’m slowly processing and a to-do list that’s already a little daunting. A fun activity that diverted me for a little while was finally learning about Quick Response Codes. QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes, allowing a far greater density of information to be packed into them than the traditional bar code.
Though it’s early days yet, we seem to be standardising around encoding a small, but growing, number of types of information such as web addresses, contact details, calendar entries, etc. For my parent’s business, I’m particularly interested in contact details and web addresses.
I’m also up to my eyeballs in interesting distractions thanks to the new contract, a new IPad, and a personal project around my househould finances, so I was delighted to discover a number of web pages that automatically generate QR codes from user-input. I’ve settled on ZXing’s QR code generation offering, as they are actively attempting to also cover the corner cases (such calendar entries, and WIFI connection details, which don’t seem to get much love elsewhere).
My first experiment was to build a vCard contact detail entry for myself. The vCard standard is pretty verbose, however, requiring a busy QR code as a final output. I settled on the more compact MECARD standard for contact encoding. I can see VCards being needed for people with a dense amount of contact imformation, but MECARD for those wanting to just pass on the bare essentials.
With the base image spat out of the ZXing generator, I GIMPed the image up a bit to suit the blog (and to see if my IPad’s QR code scanner expected the code to be black on white). I was delighted to discover that I could mix it up in terms of colour, and it’d work just fine. Here is the end result:
So, until I get bored of it, I’ve made this QR code my profile in a number of online haunts. Who knows, if you end up visiting thanks to the QR code, leave me a comment. You’d be making my day. :)Can I just say that it’s an absolute delight to point a camera at a computer screen, and have it DO all that boring typing work for me? I can see them eventually popping up everywhere as convenience items to quickly and easily get smart devices dealing with digital content from some physical source.