QR codes, or Quick Response codes, have become a part of our daily lives.
From accessing WhatsApp Web services, paying at fast food chains, accessing documents like flight details, press releases and cinema tickets, the amount of information that can be contained within a QR code is endless.
Have you ever wondered though how it started? Who created it? and for what purpose?
Allow us enlighten you.
The QR Code, which is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode, was first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, to increase the efficiency in product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, and general marketing.
Traditional bar codes were conventionally used, but as the need increased to include more information in a limited space, Denso set up a team in 1992 to develop a new code, and in two years the QR Code was developed for Toyota.
Because a QR code carries information in both vertical and horizontal directions, it can store several hundred times the amount of data carried by a bar code. In fact, over 7,000 numeric characters can be encoded in one QR code.
As for Denso, the brand was popularised by the Toyota Hybrid TS030 & TS040 Le Mans endurance racing cars, for which the company provides electrical components until today.
Coming back to the QR system, Toyota was able to track car parts and components during manufacturing process at a much faster pace compared to other manufacturers in the 1900s.
Following its application by Toyota, the QR system became popular outside the automotive industry as well, due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard barcodes.
A QR code, which consists of black squares arranged in a square grid on a white background, can be read by an imaging device such as a camera, and processed using a Reed–Solomon error correction found in QR Code scanners, until the image can be appropriately interpreted.
The required data is then extracted from patterns that are present in both horizontal and vertical components of the image.
Noticing the rapid growth of QR code usage, Nokia was the first mobile phone brand to incorporate QR code scanners in its mobile phones. Today, almost every phone has a QR code scanner.
That being said, the next time you use a QR code, remember where it came from and be thankful that Toyota created the system, as it has made a lot of things convenient in our lives.