Mystic signs of progress

24 07 2013

Archaeologists decoded many signs used in prehistoric times.
With the signs of today this task is done with smartphones within seconds.
The built-in camera and an additional helper app decodes barcodes and so-called QR Codes.

The term QR Code (Quick Response Code) is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated, Japan, a Toyota subsidiary.
It’s a two-dimensional barcode originally developed for the automotive industry. The label is machine-readable and attached to an item to get information about it.
Recently, the QR Code system has become popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard barcodes; applications include product tracking, item identification, document management, marketing, and much more.

A QR Code consists of black modules (square dots) 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.

Information stored in a QR Code is partially redundant so that the information is still accessible even if parts of the pattern are missing.
Source Wikipedia

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The image shows a typical application of QR Codes where the coded information contains a link to a website.

The technology …

QR Codes consist of black modules on a white background where textual information is coded. Additionally there are areas containing information about positioning and versioning.

If QR Codes are slightly damaged the information is still available because it’s coded redundant.
The so-called Error Correction Level defines the level of redundancy. In magazines low error correction levels can be used. For signing spare parts in the automative industry best practice is to use a high error correction level due to dirt or mechanical damage.

Because of error correction, it is possible to create artistic QR Codes that still scan correctly, but contain intentional errors to make them more readable or attractive to the human eye, as well as to incorporate colors, logos, and other features into the QR Code block.

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Other problems may appear if a QR Code is enlarged, made smaller, or is distorted by using an image processing tool. It may look like a normal QR Code, but it may be difficult or impossible to read the code.
If you place letters or pictures on an area overlapping a QR Code, the contrast between the bright and dark areas becomes indistinct. This kind of code is difficult or impossible to read.

An overview …

See this mind map which outlines the main topics of QR Code technology.

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You can download the map in different formats

PDF

ITMZ file format (iThoughts)

MMAP file format (MindManager)

XMIND file format (XMind)

Visit

The Apple group on Biggerplate

to see and download more mind maps related to Apple, products for Apple devices like database clients or mind mapping tools, and background information about the company.

The app Qrafter …

Qrafter is the best app for iOS devices with which you can decode and create barcodes and QR Codes. It’s a universal (pay once and use on iPad and iPhone) and reliable app with a perfect UI and tons of powerful features including the creation of QR Codes for different types of content like

  • URL
  • Location
    Location is automatically determined (Latitude, Longitude) and the following actions can be executed
    Show Map, Open in Maps, Open in Google Maps, Send by E-Mail, Send by Text Message, Share on Facebook/Twitter, Copy to Clipboard.

  • Contact Card
  • Event
    Select from Calendar
    Create New
  • Phone Call
  • Text Message
  • E-Mail
  • Tweet
  • WiFi Network
    SSID, Password, Encryption (WPA/WPA2, WEP, None)
  • iTunes App URL
  • Foursquare Venue URL
  • Text
  • Clipboard Contents
  • Barcode
    EAN-13, EAN-8, UPC-A, Code 39, Code 128

Feature descriptions refer to Qrafter with Pro Pack.

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If your partner also installed Qrafter (for iOS or Android) you can communicate in a secure way by using a password for encryption. If you want to send sensitive data create a QR Code of type ‘Text’ and enter a password in the creation dialog. The QR Code turns into a different image and it’s content is now encrypted with your password.

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See all further functionalities here in these screenshots:

Qrafter cannot decode

  • Micro QR Code
    little capacity and rarely used. QR Code readers cannot read Micro QR Codes as these are different types of codes. Micro QR Codes have a square in one corner to set the orientation.
  • Microsoft Tag
    is Microsoft’s proprietary coding and can only contain URLs. They are in competition to QR Codes but don’t offer the flexibility of standard QR Codes. Codes can only be scanned by the official Tag Reader app by Microsoft.
  • Others
    like BeeTagg, Shot Code, etc. which are commercially licensed, proprietary and rarely used.

Online creation …

If you don’t have an app like Qrafter to create QR Codes you can also do it online and take a photo of the generated QR Code for further use. For example visit

GoQR

Consumer acceptance …

Consider a recent study by comScore, which states that only 14 million American mobile device users have interacted with a QR Code. In essence, less than 5% of the American public has scanned a QR Code.
Less knowledge and the need to install the right app hampers a more widely usage. At the time it’s not a built-in feature of iOS although it could be reliably used for saving contact and product information from business cards and magazines.

Risks …

Often QR Codes contain an URL in that someone scanning a QR Code doesn’t necessarily know what website he is directed to. Some URL-shortening services include antimalware checks in the service or a preview of the destination website, but the applications that read QR Codes don’t always offer the same options. Malicious QR Codes, once scanned, direct visitors to a potentially malicious website that could install malware on an unsuspecting user’s phone.

To that end, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about QR Code security best practices. To protect smartphone users, a few options are to use a client antimalware application (where possible), have smartphone users take advantage of the corporate Wi-Fi network and its standard network protections to block the malware, or use a QR reader application that checks URLs against blacklists of known malware-laden websites.

The limits …

Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment by processing information that is contained in visible light. We have intuitive reactions to images that a QR Code can never evoke. QR Codes are perceived as coded information only. So there is a need for a more visual alternative to QR Codes which stimulates more positive responses.

The QR alternative …

With Mobile Visual Search (MVS), you simply point at a product or logo and shoot a picture with your smartphone’s built-in camera. Within seconds, the MVS application will provide product or company information, or even the option to make a purchase right then and there on your mobile device.

MVS is a far more compelling and interactive tool to enable mobile marketing and commerce. In today’s increasingly mobile world, instant gratification is the norm, and taking the extra step of finding a QR Code scanner on your mobile device no longer makes sense. With MVS, you are interacting with images that are familiar and desirable, not a square of code that elicits no reaction.
(Quoted from Mashable)

Related topics …

Text Recognition (1)

Text Recognition (2)

Thanks for dropping by.
I hope this post contains some useful and interesting information for you.


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