Understanding How QR Codes Have Evolved Over Time
Part 1: The Death and Rebirth of QR Codes
A Brief History
Quick Response codes, known simply as “QR codes,” were first invented in 1994 by an automotive company. Back then, QR codes helped in the manufacturing process, tracking vehicles and parts.
Over the years, the use of QR codes has moved beyond the automotive industry, but their main function remained–to merge the physical and digital worlds together.
Death to QR Codes
Though briefly popular for event marketing when QR codes became accessible on cell phones in 2010, the technology never fully caught on. QR codes remained mostly unrecognizable and sometimes even inconvenient because users had to download additional apps to scan the codes.
The Sudden Rebirth
In September 2017, Apple Inc. released the iOS 11 update, providing iPhones with the ability to scan QR codes directly from the phone, eliminating the need for third-party apps. This built-in accessibility became paramount in 2020 when COVID-19 shut down the entire world.
Like a phoenix, QR codes rose from the dead, providing contactless options for digital menus, payment, post-event surveys, and more. QR codes brought enormous relief to restaurants, businesses, and outdoor events that were struggling during the era of social distancing.
Looking Toward the Future
It’s been over two years since the beginning of the pandemic, and the usage of QR codes is still high across a multitude of industries. The public quickly adopted the practice of scanning QR codes directly with their smartphone cameras, which eased the burden for struggling businesses to cut down costs on printed marketing materials. With such a streamlined comeback, the popularity of QR codes can (and should) be leveraged by marketers and advertisers in multiple ways.
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