Originally designed 7 years ago, Quick Response codes have been on the peripherals for a while, yet they have never been able to fully take hold. The past few years have seen them make small steps towards an increase in popularity, but is this the beginning of a snowball or will they continue to drift around the edges?

Quick Response codes can simply be explained as a 2D barcode, which when read with a mobile phone camera or web cam will create a link to a piece of online content such as a site, article or video. The matrix for QR codes was created by the Denso-Wave Corporation from Japan in 1994, as it stands no license fee needs to be paid so QR codes are available to anyone wishing to use them. The web is full of sites that will create personal QR codes for any specified link, meaning anyone can now add a QR code to their correspondence.

As well as linking online content to an offline audience, Quick response codes can contain any degree of information such as names, numbers, addresses and email addresses. Their ability to hold this type of information as well in theory makes them the perfect addition, or even alternative to a business card.

Although growing in use throughout the advertising industry, QR codes have yet to firmly take off as they require the user to download the QR reader app in order to access the information held within them. Unfortunately the codes themselves are not that pretty, and the more information you want to store within them the bigger they need to be. With such large proportions of offline budgets going to art direction, will designers be willing to allow such an intrusion?

Linking offline and online is an invaluable service for marketers, yet we can’t help but think until they advance in functionality or develop aesthetically they may not ever grow from gimmick to mainstream.

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