The Rise of QR Codes, from 1994 to 2013

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Nikhil P Naik

QR (Quick Response) codes have been around for a very long time – almost 20 years – but it’s only recently that they have started to appear in every-day life, as something which us members of the public make use of. There was a time when QR codes would never of been seen by anyone outside of a car manufacturing plant, but they have come a long way since then.

QR codes

In Japan during 1994, Denso Wave Inc. (the company behind Toyota) created the QR code, a 2 dimensional matrix bar code which is capable of storing up to 4,296 alphanumeric characters or 7,089 numeric characters. It holds a considerable amount more data than a conventional barcode, and it can be read much quicker too. The QR code was created in order to help store and manage inventory items at their car manufacturing plants.

With the number of people who own a smartphone increasing dramatically each year, and the fact that smartphones are capable of reading QR codes, it’s really no surprise that their uses have grown as quickly as they have. In-fact, during 2010 QR code scans increasing over 1200%!

Today there are a huge number of uses for QR codes, they are still being used for their initial purpose of course, but now there are some really interesting and creative uses being put forward for these QR codes.


QR codes make a great addition in advertising campaigns, especially with printed ads like flyers and banners. Having a QR code on your advertisement gives your potential customer a chance to scan and store the information you’re giving on your advertisement. If you’re advertisement is for a pair of jeans that you sell, then the QR code could link directly to that product page on your online store, so anyone that see’s your ad and likes the jeans can actually purchase them right then and there, just by scanning the QR code on their smartphone.

Victoria’s Secret run a successful marketing campaign “Sexier than Skin”, which featured a picture of a semi-naked model being covered by just a QR code with a quote saying “Reveal Candice’s Secret”, if you scanned the QR code then the full image would be displayed – without the QR code – revealing the model (Candice) wearing some Victoria’s Secret underwear.

Candice Secret

Virtual Stores

This is probably the best use of QR codes for us – the public. It gives you access to do your shopping while you’re waiting for something like a train, bus, or at an airport. So you can get your shopping out of the way (who likes grocery shopping anyway?) instead of just sitting around waiting for your transport.

Tesco were the first to bring this concept to the market, with their ‘Homeplus’ store at an Underground station in South Korea. Commuters waiting for their train can do all of their shopping on their smartphones and have their items delivered to their door when they get home.

Also Read: Bar Code Technology

Other Uses

It doesn’t stop there, QR codes are being used all over the place. I’ve seen them on business cards (to open up the URL of their website or portfolio), on CV’s, on product packaging, printed in magazines, on vinyl’s on the side of business vans and cars – they are everywhere!
I don’t think their rise is going to slow down at all, Tesco recently introduced their first virtual store in the UK (at Gatwick Airport), if they get the same great results there as they did in their South Korea store, then we could see a lot more of them popping up over 2013.

Author Bio: The author of this article has worked in design and marketing for over 10 years. He recommends that you use for all of your QR needs.

Image source 1

About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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