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10. WHAT IS QR CODE? | INTRODUCTION,HISTORY,STANDARDS,USES AND MANY MORE

 

QR code



A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. In practice, QR codes often contain data for a locator, identifier, or tracker that points to a website or application. A QR code uses four standardized encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and kanji) to store data efficiently. extensions may also be used.

The Quick Response system became popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. Applications include product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, and general marketing.

A QR code consists of black squares arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device such as a camera, and processed using Reed–Solomon error correction 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.

History

The QR code system was invented in 1994 by Masahiro Hara from the Japanese company Denso Wave. The initial design was influenced by the black and white pieces on a Go board. Its purpose was to track vehicles during manufacturing. it was designed to allow high-speed component scanning. QR codes are now used in a much broader context, including both commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications aimed at mobile-phone users (termed mobile tagging). QR codes may be used to display text to the user, to open a webpage on the user's device, to add a vCard contact to the user's device, to open a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), to connect to a wireless network, or to compose an email or text message. There are a great many QR code generators available as software or as online tools that are either free, or require a paid subscription. The QR code has become one of the most-used types of two-dimensional code.

Adoption

During the month of June 2011, 14 million American mobile users scanned a QR code or a barcode. Some 58% of those users scanned a QR or barcode from their homes, while 39% scanned from retail stores; 53% of the 14 million users were men between the ages of 18 and 34. QR code usage decreased to 9.76 million in 2018 but is expected to grow to a total of 11 million households by the end of 2020.

Standards

Structure of a QR code (version 7), highlighting functional elementsThere are several standards that cover the encoding of data as QR codes.

·       October 1997 – AIM (Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility) International

·       January 1999 – JIS X 0510

·       June 2000 – ISO/IEC 18004:2000 Information technology – Automatic identification and data capture techniques – Bar code symbology – QR code (now withdrawn) Defines QR code models 1 and 2 symbols.

·       1 September 2006 - ISO/IEC 18004:2006 Information technology - Automatic identification and data capture techniques – QR code 2005 bar code symbology specification (now withdrawn) Defines QR code 2005 symbols, an extension of QR code model 2. Does not specify how to read QR code model 1 symbols, or require this for compliance.

·       1 February 2015 – ISO/IEC 18004:2015 Information – Automatic identification and data capture techniques – QR Code barcode symbology specification.
Renames the QR Code 2005 symbol to QR Code and adds clarification to some procedures and minor corrections.

At the application layer, there is some variation between most of the implementations. Japan's NTT DoCoMo has established de facto standards for the encoding of URLs, contact information, and several other data types. The open-source "ZXing" project maintains a list of QR code data types.

Uses

QR codes have become common in consumer advertising. Typically, a smartphone is used as a QR code scanner, displaying the code and converting it to some useful form (such as a standard URL for a website, thereby obviating the need for a user to type it into a web browser). QR code has become a focus of advertising strategy, since it provides a way to access a brand's website more quickly than by manually entering a URL. Beyond mere convenience to the consumer, the importance of this capability is that it increases the conversion rate: the chance that contact with the advertisement will convert to a sale. It coaxes interested prospects further down the conversion funnel with little delay or effort, bringing the viewer to the advertiser's website immediately, whereas a longer and more targeted sales pitch may lose the viewer's interest.

Although initially used to track parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR codes are used over a much wider range of applications. These include commercial tracking, entertainment and transport ticketing, product and loyalty marketing and in-store product labeling. Examples of marketing include where a company's discounted and percent discount can be captured using a QR code decoder which is a mobile app, or storing a company's information such as address and related information alongside its alpha-numeric text data as can be seen in Yellow Pages directory.

They can also be used in storing personal information for use by organizations. An example of this is Philippines National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) where NBI clearances now come with a QR code. Many of these applications target mobile-phone users (via mobile tagging). Users may receive text, add a vCard contact to their device, open a URL, or compose an e-mail or text message after scanning QR codes. They can generate and print their own QR codes for others to scan and use by visiting one of several pay or free QR code-generating sites or apps. Google had an API, now deprecated, to generate QR codes, and apps for scanning QR codes can be found on nearly all smartphone devices.

QR codes storing addresses and URLs may appear in magazines, on signs, on buses, on business cards, or on almost any object about which users might want information. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone's browser. This act of linking from physical world objects is termed hardlinking or object hyperlinking. QR codes also may be linked to a location to track where a code has been scanned. Either the application that scans the QR code retrieves the geo information by using GPS and cell tower triangulation (aGPS) or the URL encoded in the QR code itself is associated with a location. In 2008, a Japanese stonemason announced plans to engrave QR codes on gravestones, allowing visitors to view information about the deceased, and family members to keep track of visits. Psychologist Richard Wiseman was one of the first authors to include QR codes in a book, in Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There (2011).

QR codes have been incorporated into currency. In June 2011 The Royal Dutch Mint (Koninklijke Nederlandse Munt) issued the world's first official coin with a QR code to celebrate the centenary of its current building and premises. The coin can be scanned by a smartphone and originally linked to a special website with contents about the historical event and design of the coin. In 2014 the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a 100-naira banknote to commemorate its centennial, the first banknote to incorporate a QR code in its design. When scanned with an internet-enabled mobile device, the code goes to a website which tells the centenary story of Nigeria. In 2015, the Central Bank of the Russian Federation issued a 100-rubles note to commemorate the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. It contains a QR code into its design, and when scanned with an internet-enabled mobile device, the code goes to a website that details the historical and technical background of the commemorative note. In 2017, the Bank of Ghana issued a 5-cedis banknote to commemorate 60 years of Central Banking in Ghana, and contains a QR code in its design, which when scanned with an internet-enabled mobile device, that code goes to the official Bank of Ghana website.

Credit card functionality is under development. In September 2016, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched the eponymously named Bharat QR, a common QR code jointly developed by all the four major card payment companies - National Payments Corporation of India that runs RuPay cards along with MasterCard, Visa and American Express. It will also have the capability of accepting payments on the unified payments interface (UPI) platform.

Augmented reality

QR codes are used in some augmented reality systems to determine the positions of objects in 3-dimensional space. QR Codes are also being used to deliver Augmented Reality experiences.

Displaying multimedia contents

Multimedia QR Codes are also used to direct users to specific multimedia contents (such as video, audio, images, documents, etc.).

Mobile operating systems

QR codes can be used on various mobile device operating systems. iPhones running on iOS 11 and higher and some Android devices can natively scan QR codes without downloading an external app. The camera app is able to scan and display the kind of QR code (only on iPhone) along with the link (both on Android and iPhone). These devices support URL redirection, which allows QR codes to send metadata to existing applications on the device. Many paid or free apps are available with the ability to scan the codes and hard-link to an external URL.

URLs

URLs aided marketing conversion rates even in the pre-smartphone era, but during those years faced several limitations: ad viewers usually had to type the URL and often did not have a web browser in front of them when they first viewed the ad. The chances were high that they would forget to visit the site later, not bother to type a URL, or forget what URL to type. Semantic URLs decreased these risks but did not eliminate them. With the advent of smartphones the issue of viewers not being able to access a website immediately has become less of an issue, however the trouble of typing in URLs still remained and thus QR codes were used in order to allow redirecting to URLs for instant access. Some QR code generators offer an additional feature - dynamic QR codes. Dynamic QR codes can have their end website edited over and over again because even though they themselves cannot be modified, they link to a placeholder URL that redirects the scanner to the website that they actually see. This placeholder's redirect can be customized (hence the name "dynamic") unlike a regular QR code, which has no "in-between" site and links directly to a site that cannot be changed. The placeholder can also have additional functions like analytics of the code's scanners.

Virtual stores

QR codes have been used to establish "virtual stores", where a gallery of product information and QR codes is presented to the customer, e.g. on a train station wall. The customers scan the QR codes, and the products are delivered to their homes. This use started in South Korea, and Argentina, but is currently expanding globally. Walmart, Procter & Gamble and Woolworths have already adopted the Virtual Store concept.

QR code payment



QR codes can be used to store bank account information or credit card information, or they can be specifically designed to work with particular payment provider applications. There are several trial applications of QR code payments across the world. In developing countries like China, India and Bangladesh QR code payment is a very popular and convenient method of making payments. Since Alipay designed a QR code payment method in 2011, mobile payment has been quickly adopted in China. As of 2018, around 83% of all payments were made via mobile payment.

In November 2012, QR code payments were deployed on a larger scale in the Czech Republic when an open format for payment information exchange - a Short Payment Descriptor — was introduced and endorsed by the Czech Banking Association as the official local solution for QR payments. In 2013, the European Payment Council provided guidelines for the EPC QR code enabling SCT initiation within the Eurozone.

Website login

QR codes can be used to log into websites: a QR code is shown on the login page on a computer screen, and when a registered user scans it with a verified smartphone, they will automatically be logged in. Authentication is performed by the smartphone which contacts the server. Google tested such a login method in January 2012.

Restaurant ordering

Fast serve restaurants can present a QR code near the front door allowing guests to view an online menu, or even redirect them to an online ordering website or app, allowing them to order or potentially pay for their meal without having to stand in line or use a cashier. QR codes can also link to daily or weekly specials that are not printed on the standardized menus. At table serve restaurants, QR codes enable guests to order their meals without a waiter involved- the QR code contains the table number so servers know where to bring the food. This application has grown especially since the need for social distancing during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has prompted reduced contact between service staff and customers.

Joining a Wi‑Fi network

By specifying the SSID, encryption type, password/passphrase, and if the SSID is hidden or not, mobile device users can quickly scan and join networks without having to manually enter the data. A MECARD-like format is supported by Android and iOS 11+.

Funerary use

A QR code can link to an obituary and can be placed on a headstone. In 2008, Ishinokoe in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan began to sell tombstones with QR codes produced by IT DeSign, where the code leads to a virtual grave site of the deceased. Other companies, such as Wisconsin-based Interactive Headstones, have also begun implementing QR codes into tombstones. In 2014, the Jewish Cemetery of La Paz in Uruguay began implementing QR codes for tombstones.

Video games

Popular video games, such as FezThe Talos Principle, and Watch Dogs, have incorporated QR codes as story and gameplay elements. Mobile games such as Munzee use geolocation in combination with QR codes to create a game that is played in the real world by scanning QR stickers in physical locations.

Loyalty programs

QR Codes have been used by various retail outlets that have loyalty programs. Usually, these programs are in the form of an app that users can download onto their phone and comes with a feature to scan QR codes, which are found printed on the receipt received when making a purchase, allowing users to collect award points simply by scanning the code.

Counterfeit detection

Serialised QR Codes have been used by brands and governments to let consumers, retailers and distributors verify the authenticity of the products and help with detecting counterfeit products, as part of a brand protection program. However, the security level of a regular QR Code is limited since QR Codes printed on original products are easily reproduced on fake products, even though the analysis of data generated as a result of QR Code scanning can be used to detect counterfeiting and illicit activity. A higher security level can be attained by embedding a digital watermark or copy detection pattern into the image of the QR Code. This makes the QR Code more secure against counterfeiting attempts, and fake products which contain a counterfeit QR Code can be detected by scanning the secure QR Code with a specific app (even though the QR Code message itself is valid).

Product tracing

Different studies have been made to assess the effectiveness of QR codes as a means of conveying labelling information and their use as part of a food traceability system. In, it was found that when provided free access to a smartphone with QR Code scanning app, 52.6% of participants would use it to access labelling information. A study made in South Korea showed that consumers appreciate QR code used in food traceability system, as they provide detailed information about food, as well as information that helps them in their purchasing decision. If QR Codes are serialised, consumers can access a web page showing the supply chain for each ingredient, as well as information specific to each related batch, including meat processors and manufacturers, which helps address the concerns they have about the origin of their food.

COVID-19 pandemic

After the COVID-19 pandemic began spreading, QR codes began to be used as a "touchless" system to display information, show menus, or provide updated consumer information, especially in the hospitality industry. Restaurants replaced paper or laminated plastic menus with QR code decals on the table, which opened an online version of the menu. This prevented the need to dispose of one-time-use paper menus, or institute cleaning and sanitizing procedures for permanent menus after each use.

Design

Unlike the older, one-dimensional barcodes that were designed to be mechanically scanned by a narrow beam of light, a QR code is detected by a 2-dimensional digital image sensor and then digitally analyzed by a programmed processor. The processor locates the three distinctive squares at the corners of the QR code image, using a smaller square (or multiple squares) near the fourth corner to normalize the image for size, orientation, and angle of viewing. The small dots throughout the QR code are then converted to binary numbers and validated with an error-correcting algorithm.

Storage

The amount of data that can be stored in the QR code symbol depends on the datatype (mode, or input character set), version (1, ..., 40, indicating the overall dimensions of the symbol, i.e. 4 × version number + 17 dots on each side), and error correction level. The maximum storage capacities occur for version 40 and error correction level L (low), denoted by 40-L.

Encoding

The format information records two things: the error correction level and the mask pattern used for the symbol. Masking is used to break up patterns in the data area that might confuse a scanner, such as large blank areas or misleading features that look like the locator marks. The mask patterns are defined on a grid that is repeated as necessary to cover the whole symbol. Modules corresponding to the dark areas of the mask are inverted. The format information is protected from errors with a BCH code, and two complete copies are included in each QR symbol.

The message dataset is placed from right to left in a zigzag pattern, as shown below. In larger symbols, this is complicated by the presence of the alignment patterns and the use of multiple interleaved error-correction blocks.

Meaning of format information. In the above figure, the format information is protected by a (15,5) BCH code, which can correct up to 3 bit errors. The total length of the code is 15 bits, of which 5 are data bits (2 EC level + 3 mask pattern) and 10 are extra bits for error correction. The format mask for these 15 bits is: [101011001010101]. Note that we map the masked values directly to its meaning here.

License

The use of QR code technology is freely licensed as long as users follow the standards for QR Code documented with JIS or ISO. Non-standardized codes may require special licensing.

Denso Wave owns a number of patents on QR code technology, but has chosen to exercise them in a limited fashion. In order to promote widespread usage of the technology Denso Wave chose to waive its rights to a key patent in its possession for standardized codes only. In the US, the granted QR code patent is US 5726435, and in Japan JP 2938338. The European Patent Office granted patent "EPO 0672994". to Denso Wave, which was then validated into French, UK, and German patents, all of which expired in March 2015.

The text QR Code itself is a registered trademark and wordmark of Denso Wave Incorporated. In UK, the trademark is registered as E921775, the word "QR Code", with a filing date of 03/09/1998. The UK version of the trademark is based on the Kabushiki Kaisha Denso (DENSO CORPORATION) trademark, filed as Trademark 000921775, the word "QR Code", on 03/09/1998 and registered on 6/12/1999 with the European Union OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market). The U.S. Trademark for the word "QR Code" is Trademark 2435991 and was filed on 29 September 1998 with an amended registration date of 13 March 2001, assigned to Denso Corporation.

Risks

The only context in which common QR codes can carry executable data is the URL data type. These URLs may host JavaScript code, which can be used to exploit vulnerabilities in applications on the host system, such as the reader, the web browser or the image viewer, since a reader will typically send the data to the application associated with the data type used by the QR code.

In the case of no software exploits, malicious QR codes combined with a permissive reader can still put a computer's contents and user's privacy at risk. This practice is known as "attagging", a portmanteau of "attack tagging". They are easily created and can be affixed over legitimate QR codes. On a smartphone, the reader's permissions may allow use of the camera, full Internet access, read/write contact data, GPS, read browser history, read/write local storage, and global system changes.

Risks include linking to dangerous web sites with browser exploits, enabling the microphone/camera/GPS, and then streaming those feeds to a remote server, analysis of sensitive data (passwords, files, contacts, transactions), and sending email/SMS/IM messages or DDOS packets as part of a botnet, corrupting privacy settings, stealing identity, and even containing malicious logic themselves such as JavaScript or a virus. These actions could occur in the background while the user is only seeing the reader opening a seemingly harmless web page. In Russia, a malicious QR code caused phones that scanned it to send premium texts at a fee of US$6 each.

 

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