What is a QR code?
A QR code is a two-dimensional code (2D code, matrix code), this means it contains data not only in one dimension (e.g. horizontally from left to right like the barcodes on the products in e.g. your grocery store) but also in a second dimension (vertical and horizontal). The acronym QR is short for “Quick Response”.
QR codes are also often called 2D barcodes. However, this notation is not correct, because it means “a two-dimensional code consisting of bars” although a QR code consists of pixels (so-called “modules”) instead of bars.
The QR code was invented by the automotive industry. Toyota asked their supplier Denso Wave to develop a barcode to safely and easily identify components. QR generators were originally used in industrial applications. Therefore, they had to be easily printable in form and size as well as staying legible when partially destroyed or dirty.
Like other codes, the QR code symbol can be captured with imaging devices like a camera and then digitally processed. A software prepares the captured image data until it can be algorithmically processed according to the QR code standard so the QR code content can be read. This process is assisted by the use of the Reed-Solomon error correction—which is also used for audio CDs to ensure that the data can still be read correctly even with small scratches on the surface.
The error correction capabilities are also used for QR codes with logo (often also called “Design QR code” or simply “QR code with image / icon / logo”). This QR code graphics are faulty “ex works” as the normally centered placed logo in a QR code hides some of its data just as would ordinary dirt.
Because of the excellent error correction (they can be read even if up to 30 % of the surface gets destroyed) and the high memory capacity (in comparison with other bar codes), the QR code also gained traction outside the automotive industry. Modern mobile phones are powerful enough to run QR code reading software and also usually provide a camera. This combination brought up a variety of possibilities to use the QR code to easily transfer data without typing to the peoples new communication center, the smartphone. Therefore, a widespread use of QR codes became possible with the recent smartphone boom and the increasing spread of mobile internet.
What is a QR code generator?
A QR code generator is a software which stores data into a QR code (for example a text or a website address). E.g. this can be easily done with our online QR generator goQR.me: just create a QR code by typing in your data and download it as high resolution PNG or vector graphic (SVG, EPS). Now you may print your free QR code or embed it on your website to make it available to others.
Are QR codes legally protected? What is the licensing policy?
The QR code developer Denso Wave patented the QR code technology and released the QR specification as an ISO standard (ISO/IEC 18004:2000 and ISO/IEC 18004:2006. However, the patent owners decided not to exercise the rights resulting therefrom. Therefore the use of the QR code technology as defined by the ISO and JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) is free of charge. Also a usage registration is not necessary.
The name “QR code” is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Inc. in several jurisdictions (including Japan, the U.S. and many European countries). An appropriate notice should be visible when using the brand, is however not necessary if the QR code is only used as a pattern / picture / graphic / logo / icon (e.g. by including it on a website or when printed on a business card, brochure, leaflet etc.). More information can be found at the FAQ of QR code developer Denso Wave.
Nevertheless a word of warning: Please be aware that a QR code image itself may be copyright protected when created by a third party and therefore may incur usage charges or other fees, depending on the license terms of the used QR code generator. Therefore play safe: The QR codes created on goQR.me are free of charge, for both non-commercial and commercial usage, e.g. by advertising agencies. So make sure to always create your QR codes with our generator.
Is it possible to create different QR codes for the same content?
Yes. Even if all input data and the chosen error correction level (ECC) are identical, there are various graphical representations of a legible and valid QR code with the same content. The reason is that there are eight possible data masks which influence the pattern. These masks exist to prevent some module patterns which are hard to decode.
Not every data mask is really suitable for every content. However, many QR code generators do not take the testing and determination of the best mask seriously, although this may result in less legible (but still valid) QR codes.
QR code with company logo / image / branding
Many users are asking if we can embed an image or a slogan into a QR code. And yes, it is possible to to customize a QR code with a logo, lettering, picture or some company color schema.