When you Google search ‘QR codes’, you’ll find a range of sources for the coronavirus pandemic affecting Australia and the rest of the world. It’s become an essential part of contact tracing in Australia where it’s something that we must all do anywhere outside our own home.
QR codes (Quick-Response codes) were first used more than two decades ago, long before the pandemic hit us. They were invented by a Japanese automobile company, Denso Wave, to scan products to quickly get their details and specifications. It’s a webpage link in the form of a visual code that can be scanned, like how a barcode behaves.
QR codes are a great source to send web page links to users without them having to type a full URL link in a browser. Each black and white code is unique, with more options to design them for brands to be a more interactive asset. Initially we were only able to scan using QR code readers downloaded in app stores, but now with software updates on phones we can scan them with our cameras.
They are a great marketing tool and resource that can be used to deliver messages, information and promotions.
Common Uses for QR codes
- Hospitality businesses use QR codes for visual menus and ordering systems on platforms like Mr Yum.
- Direct users to your website and social media platforms without having to search or type in your company name
- Deliver how-to guides or a series of steps with instructions that are more handy for users to have on hand or print out. These may include eBooks which have a lot more information and can easily be accessed by scanning a code.
- Download a mobile app on your devices.
- Provide a digital copy of promotions, discounts and coupons with direct links to sources.
- We can scan QR codes with our mobile phones to have digital business cards that have your contact details such as phone number and company logo.
Dangers of the QR Code
Amongst these uses, there are thousands of ways you can use QR codes for your business, but there is also a dark side to QR codes as with everything that is on the internet. Discord, a digital distribution and communication platform for online communities has an option in the login page to sign in with a QR code. If you had forgotten your details to sign in, but you are logged in on your phone, you can use the QR code scanner on the Discord app.
This feature is different to saving our passwords, where it becomes easy to ‘set and forget’. In early 2020, scammers were taking advantage of this by setting up QR codes for users who would scan to upgrade their accounts to a premium service. These fake QR codes leaked personal information when we are online now more than ever.
QR codes have a range of benefits by delivering information through online links in a quick and efficient manner. It’s a simple digital tool that has allowed people to check-in to places contactless during this pandemic. As the case with anything online, especially with regards to personal details, we should always proceed with caution.
The Future of QR Codes & Contactless Technology
While these codes have become more associated with contact tracing, they are also paving the way for other technology to be contactless as well. If we can log in or check in to different places both in person and online, there’s really no limit to where and how we use this now and in the future. Are we in the process of making everything 100% contactless or is that just the direction we’re inevitably heading towards? What’s important to note is that while the world is moving forward with adapting to being more digital, businesses cannot afford to be left behind.
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