How Covid-19 Saved The QR Code

by Chris Riminton on 29th April 2022

What is a QR code?

A QR code, which stands for “quick response code” is a form of barcode which holds information which can then be scanned. While QR codes are used more and more, they were actually invented in 1994. A camera device is required to scan the QR code and use the data. The most common application of this is on mobile phones. A typical example is a user see’s a QR code, opens their phone and then scans the QR code. The data in the QR code will redirect the user to the website URL that was stored on the QR code.


Uses of QR codes

QR codes have expanded and developed as more use cases have been found for the QR code. One of the primary use cases is still when it is used in advertising however here are a few other examples of how a QR can be used:

  • Joining a Wi‑Fi network
  • QR code payment
  • Displaying multimedia contents
  • Loyalty programs
  • Electronic authentication


Why did QR codes struggle to gain popularity?

The main argument that was common with QR codes was that it was very much a gimmick and didn’t give many benefits to the user. Let’s take an example of a QR code that opens up a google map of a business. A user could just as easily have typed in or used voice assistant to search the business and get directions or a map view. Another view was that they felt unsafe. If you take a URL like you can see from the domain what the site is about and you would trust it. With a QR code, you have no idea what you are scanning, the QR code may take you to a malicious website or a location you were not expecting, this made people wary of using QR codes in public spaces.


Revival during Covid-19 pandemic

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit it was clear that technology was needed that was contact-free but easy to use. The perfect technology for this is QR codes, they hold data and can be scanned from a distance without any physical contact. Up until the covid-19 pandemic QR codes were starting to see a gain in popularity but it wasn’t until the height of the pandemic and the NHS’s covid pass rollout that QR’s gained popularity. It was also used by venues to allow contact tracing, this is a perfect example of how quick and easy QR codes can make certain tasks. Without the QR code tracing in venues you would have to leave your details in physical form on paper, by using a QR reduces both contact and time which during Covid-19 was crucial.


QR codes took 27 years to take off

Image source –


What next for the QR code?

So where does the QR code go from here? Well the use of QR is ever expanding and there are plenty of businesses using them now. QR codes are also being used in Augmented reality and also to create virtual stores. One of the most exciting new uses of QR codes is dynamic ones that help measure campaign performance by providing access to first-party data. This data could include data such as the number of scans, location of scanning, and the device used to scan the QR Code.

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