I don’t know how and where it first started, but it seems like QR codes are everywhere these days. Not sure what a QR code is?
It is the name of those strange little black squares on a white square background, called "Quick Response Codes” (hence QR codes), that you may have noticed on the back of products you buy, magazines you read and packages you receive.
They may have appeared recently in our lives, but it turns out that they are nothing new. A subsidiary of Toyota actually created them in 1994 to track cars during the manufacturing process. They have two major benefits: They can contain much more information than a regular bar code, and don’t require a bulky reader; a fancy cell phone often is enough.
Indeed, if your smartphone or web cam has the necessary software, scanning the QR code will take you to the company’s web site, where you can learn more about the product in question.
That’s how most of us know these fancy bar codes: a way to access a web site. Yet they can be used in a number of more creative ways. After all, they are merely a way to store information. As such, they can:
• Tell you when your next bus or train arrives;
• Send you a manufacturer coupon;
• Send you a movie trailer;
• Share information about a deceased person, after you scan a code on a tombstone. Don't believe it? Then visit this British web site www.memorialtags.com.
• Capture an audience's attention when a code is embedded in a music video or a video game;
• Send a recording on your voice to the recipient of a gift. This idea was actually implemented by J.C. Penney last Christmas. The code was simply attached to a gift.
If you are interested in creating a QR code for your clinic, you can do that for free at sites like www.kaywa.com. Then you can add the code to your business card, or any clinic material for that matter. When clients scan the code, they can be linked to your website, or your Facebook page, or they can store your address, phone number and any information you link to the code.
For a brief demonstration, click here.
As in many other digital endeavors, using QR codes is not a risk free proposition. There are malicious codes out there, which can put your privacy at risk, so user beware.
Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is www.DrPhilZeltzman.com. He is the co-author of "Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (www.WalkaHound.com).