How to Make Your Personal QR Code

March 8, 2010

Ever since I installed a barcode scanner app on my phone, I see QR codes everywhere--so naturally I wanted one of my own. If you too are a barcode-scanning fool, point your phone's camera at this QR code and you'll get a link to my personal web site. Fun!

A QR ("quick response") code is a square barcode that makes getting URLs, location coordinates, any text or contact information onto a phone quickly. With a barcode scanner app installed, you just point your phone's camera at the code to read its contents. Here's what reading this QR code looks like on my Android phone, using an app simply called "Barcode Scanner."

To find a scanner application, Google "QR Reader" and the model of your phone. (If you've got a favorite scanner app that you're using, let us know in the comments.)

Encoding a regular URL is a fine use of QR codes--especially lengthy and complicated URLs on movie and event flyers--but one of my favorite uses of QR codes is swapping mobile app recommendations with your friends. Since you can't search the Android Market on the web or in desktop software, you're always stuck tapping in search terms by hand. The App Referer app generates QR codes for every one of your applications. So if you want to "give" that app to a friend, you call up the QR code, and your pal can scan your phone's screen.

You'll also see QR codes on web pages, in store windows, on business cards, and on conference badges. You can generate your own QR code with the information you want others to be able to read onto their phones quickly too. This QR code generator can embed a URL, text, a phone number, or an addressed and ready-to-send SMS message into a QR code.

If you Google "QR code generator" you'll find others, but beware of generators that force a redirect through their site when someone scans the resulting code and gets a URL. (For example, this generator has options to encode Google Maps coordinates, social network information, and Vcards and can print t-shirts and stickers from the codes it generates, but if you enter a simple web site URL it creates a redirect through the qrstuff.com site.)

Speaking of stickers, now I just need to print a few with my code to stick on my laptop, phone, and conference badges.

Hi Gina,

Excellent thoughts here. I have the QuickMark app on my iPhone but have not had sufficient use for it. There are not many QR codes around my neck of the woods (Carolinas).

I also like the idea of printing stickers to put on conference badges and maybe even business cards (although the info is already there so that may be duplicating efforts).

Thanks as always,

Yours,

Chris Craft
http://www.christophercraft.com

One feature that the QR Reader app supplies but isn’t often noticed is the ability to share contacts. Go to the Contact, hit menu, share, choose barcode reader, and voila, a shareable contact that your friends android can now read and add to their own phone.

Jeff Martin
Mar 8 10 at 9:55 am

I have a Windows Mobile Phone (yes I know Android is better, didn’t get to choose), I was wondering if you know any WiMo app?

Gina, how would you compare this with Microsoft’s new Tag?

http://www.microsoft.com/tag/

It’s sure colorful.

rayhart
Mar 8 10 at 10:11 am

PortaPayments is a cool use of QR Codes I came across recently: generate and scan QR codes to initiate a paypal payment of a specific amount to a specific person.

http://www.androidguys.com/2010/03/04/download-portapayments/

Chuck Falzone [+2]
Mar 8 10 at 10:31 am

@Chuck: Neat!

A reader also sends me a good three-rule best practices list for QR codes:
http://2d-code.co.uk/three-rules-of-qr-codes/

Gina Trapani [+195]
Mar 8 10 at 10:52 am

Thanks for nice overview.

You might be interested in Google Chart API.

It provides web app ready to use api for QR Code generation. Apart
from it, it’s pretty simple to use as a handy QR Code generator.

http://code.google.com/apis/chart/image_charts.html

Playground:
http://code.google.com/apis/chart/docs/chart_playground.html?url=http%3A%2F%2Fchart.apis.google.com%2Fchart%3Fcht%3Dqr%26chs%3D150x150%26chl%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fgogaart.pl%2F

Great tip Gina! Already added it to our Facebook Fan page. Love you on TWIG.

Hey Gina, just thought I’d let you know that the Barcode Scanner app itself can also share apps and bookmarks. From the scanner screen, hit Menu, then Share. And you can then chose apps, bookmarks, contacts, etc. to share. Very useful. :-)

ryaninc [+1]
Mar 8 10 at 1:29 pm

I’ve been working on using small embedded processors at http://harleyhacking.blogspot.com – my next trick is going to be real-time QR-codes with sensor information.

Or, you probably know about the Eye-Fi. Uploads pictures. You can embed comments, but it saves the download step just generate a JPEG of a QR Code, put it in the DCIM directory and then let the card upload it? Open Picasa and point your smartphone.

Meanwhile, the zxing project’s QR detector has some problems in their methods, so I’m trying to improve on it.

(I too am a fan of you on TWiG and the other shows – there is no “this week in (robotic, kit, etc.) hardware”).

tz [+15]
Mar 8 10 at 6:34 pm

Gina, you mentioned the Android app App Referrer – could you please include a QR code so your readers can quickly get this app from the market, or is that too meta?

Kelly Atkinson
Mar 8 10 at 7:26 pm

Hi, Gina, great post about QR codes.
In qrstuff, if you want to have a regular URL just enter it as text. Most decoders will work with that.

pablovarela [+1]
Mar 9 10 at 8:42 am

Nice article, QR codes are really taking off in a big way. I would also like to suggest my own app “Listables!” (sorry for the self-promo).

It’s like app referrer, but with more features such as BBCode generation, selecting of which apps to share, HTML code generation, contact sharing with vCards, etc.

Don’t get me wrong though, App Referrer looks like a really nice app, and I hadn’t seen it until today.

@Kelly Atkinson, I dont think it will let me post the QR code but I will try below.

market://search?q=listables

http://alostpacket.com/listables-2/

alostpacket
Mar 9 10 at 9:00 am

I love the use of QR codes for locative public art. My friends at the Waag Society have done some interesting explorations in this area and Mobile Misuse has a cool example from our side of the pond.

One day, I’ll follow through on getting San Diego kids to “tag” their neighborhoods with their likes/dislikes.

Xavier Leonard
http://www.designersforhumaity.org

X.L
Mar 9 10 at 11:38 am

Thanks for mentioning the http://www.qrstuff.com in your great article.

I’d like to take the opportunity to point out that registered users have the choice of embedding either a shortened qrstuff.com URL in their QR code, or having the URL encoded in its native form as entered.

I found in the early days that quite a few anonymous users were entering URL’s that were either so long that they created an overly dense code that was difficult for a lot of smartphones to read, or were entering malformed URL’s that weren’t able to be navigated by phone based browsers.

In the interests of making it easier (and more reliable) for one-off casual users I brought in the mandatory URL shortening for anonymous users.

Yes, it can be simply subverted by entering the URL as TEXT, but I consider there’s more advantages than disadvantages in using shortened URL’s for inexperienced users.

My experience has shown that anyone who’s QR code deployment due diligence indicates that a shortened URL is not appropriate will have no hesitation in becoming a registered user.

I would also point out that QR codes generated by registered users of http://www.qrstuff.com continue to be fully functional even after their account registration expires.

Cheers
Greg

qrstuff
Mar 10 10 at 12:07 am

Cool.
I’ll have to find my CueCat http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CueCat someplace. :)

Gene Lisa
Mar 10 10 at 4:33 am

Hi Gina,

I had just created a QR Code generator for iPhone, called “QR+Emoji”, and it’s on sale on AppStore now (http://itunes.com/apps/digdogsoftware).

The best part of the app is, you can put Apple’s emoji icon on top of the QR Code, and still able to be decoded by other scanners.

If you’re interested, I would love to give you the promote code to try.

digdog
Mar 10 10 at 8:25 pm

This online decoder is also useful, for those of us playing with QR codes:
http://zxing.org/w/decode.jspx

Gina Trapani [+195]
Mar 10 10 at 9:07 pm

More QR code fun! Here’s a bookmarklet that makes a code from any web site:
http://mattcollinge.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/qr-code-bookmarklet/

Gina Trapani [+195]
Mar 18 10 at 8:30 am

is it possible to actually access the meta data from codes rather than simply be directly to a site? our division is seeing these on items that i could scan and use the data for analysis if it could be captured.

ffolliet [+4]
Mar 24 10 at 1:55 am


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