We’ve all seen bar codes that retailers, magazines and other companies use for internal inventory and subscription tracking. QR Codes are the SM version – they are just a different format for presenting a web address. And because they are social, we want the public to scan them with their mobile phones, visit the site and SHARE them!
 
 
A QR code is a square matrix code designed by the Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. QR is short for Quick Response as these codes were designed to be decoded rapidly. QR codes are easy to recognize as they always have a bordered square in three of the four corners.
Microsoft Tags
 These are a different format of QR codes created by Microsoft. Microsoft maintains that the size of Tags is the same regardless of the length of your URL or message. This can help when using for printed materials when you need to go smaller. Microsoft Tag, AT&T Mobile Barcodes, and MobileTags are all alternative formats to QR codes that require different apps to scan. 
 
On the other hand, I feel the proprietary formats being marketed by companies like Microsoft,  AT&T , and  MobileTag throw up an unneeded barrier for consumers. Who wants to download 10 different Apps in order to scan different format codes unless there are features unique enough to matter? I would prefer to have information that can be scanned by all mobile apps.
 
Download a Scanning App to your phone. Many are free so it’s fun to explore.  Simply Google “QR codes” to find a website or mobile App compatible with your phone:. A few options:
· Optiscan (download from iTunes/ phone app store)
· BeeTagg (BeeTagg.com)
· TagReader (reads Microsoft Tags http://gettag.mobi; http://tag.microsoft.com to generate tags)

Examples of using QR Codes for events:

1. Event promotion – website address or video invitation
QR code for Trenton Small Business Week:
Tag from a Fair in Washington
 
 
2. Trade Show Name Badges:
Large trade shows used to rent clumsy devices that exhibitors could scan regular bar codes on name badges of attendees. Or they could take the time to have a prospect write down their contact info (hopefully legibly) if they ran out of business cards. Now the exhibitor can engage in conversation and if there is to be follow-up after the show they can simply scan the Tag with their phone to capture all the data collected during registration. Contact info, industry sector, etc. This maximizes everyone’s time at a show.
 
3. Onsite activities, i.e., t-shirts, contests, Scavenger Hunt.

Each June, ARTWORKS takes over a warehouse in Trenton and stages a 24-hour art exhibition, live music, food & wine festival called Art All Night. This year, they had a projector set up in 5 different areas where people could scan a QR code with a clue to find something. I saw a similar mobile scanning activity at a week-long event co-hosted by Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA.

4 in 10 U.S. phones are now smartphones. And with Nielsen predicting smartphones to overtake feature phones early 2012, the  possibilities of connecting with your audience through mobile is only going to
increase. QR codes are mobile links to your events.