Have you seen the Quick Response (QR) codes that are popping up everywhere? They resemble a pixilated postage stamp and they pack a punch – if you have a smartphone and a QR scanner app to take advantage of the barcode's cooler, hipper cousin.
For the most part I err on the side of the Luddites. I don't assume everyone has the newest technology. But recent research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project makes me more confident about touting cool new tech toys. According to Pew, just over half (53%) of cellphone owners said they have a smartphone or their phone runs on a smartphone platform. With a majority of phone users now able to take advantage of QR, Chemical Processing is moving forward in this arena.
First, here's a quick primer on QR codes. In the simplest form, they are just like barcodes. They hold information. But QR codes go a step further than barcodes, which simply identify an object. QR codes convey information. When you scan a QR code you are taken to either a website, a phone number, an SMS message, vCard data or just plain alphanumeric text.
So what do you do when you see a QR code? With smartphone in hand, capture the code via one of several free reader apps (a quick search in the marketplace will highlight several). The app will then take you to the intended destination.
At first blush, this seems like a silly tool. But when you think about it, it offers extreme usability. For example, I have created a QR code for our recent Powder eHandbook "Succeed at Solids Handling." Accessing this code will take you to a registration form that will enable you to download this valuable reference. The code is in the box below. I've also included the actual URL for the 47% of folks without a smartphone. As you can see, it's much easier to capture the QR code than go to your browser and input the fairly lengthy URL. When appropriate, we will include the codes in the magazine. [Editor's note: We know QR codes are silly in an online environment. But this column makes sense in the magazine.]
This technology also will prove useful at tradeshows. In fact, at the upcoming Powder & Bulk Solids Show, May 8-10 in Chicago, our booth #2838 will feature a QR code for a sneak peek at the next Powder eHandbook.
Another great thing about QR codes is that they are the same all over the world (the technical specifications are set down in the ISO-18004 standard). And once you have the QR reader app, you can start capturing codes everywhere. I've seen them in restaurants, grocery stores, the zoo and even along the Gettysburg Battlefield tour. Wherever information is important a QR code is appropriate.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's senior digital editor. She's also always on the lookout for QR codes -- after all, knowledge is power. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
On the social media front, be sure to check out her Google+ page.