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The QR code: Chronicles of a failed technology

The QR code is an information storage system in a matrix of black and white dots or two-dimensional barcodes. They can contain many different types of information such as URL, SMS, text, links with audiovisual content, a web page and also lists of contacts, phone numbers and even map locations.

It is possible to recover the encrypted information in the QR code with a mobile device by simply downloading a QR decoder application and point the camera at a QR code panel. Once scanned, the data will automatically appear on the screen of the used device, without any need to take pictures or fit well the QR object.

This technology is not recent, since the patent bar coding was recorded in 1952, but it was not known until the 80’s, when the technology was a great commercial success, causing it to be applied to virtually all product packaging used daily.

With the advent of QR coding, few users have joined the system, considered too artificial: Few users use their smartphones to perform analyzes.

Designed in 1994 by the Japanese firm Denso Wave, the idea was to store more information in comparison with the traditional bar coding, but this attempt to connect the physical world with the virtual to give a before edge feeling and implementation yet successful in the industry, its use is still too low among smartphone owners.

Public authorities and tourism institutions have adapted their recent year’s prospectus to be compatible with this technology in order to promote tourism to do the same in order to achieve virtual tours, among other services. Some cemeteries in Barcelona have launched in 2012 a service that allows traditional tombstones to contain information about the deceased in QR code through a free mobile device, gaining access to his biography by text and pictures.

This technology seems to draw its strength from museums. In Spain, several works currently own QR code frames containing all the necessary information in order to not clutter the work itself with text. Indeed, Spain is the country where QR codes are the most read in the world: 21% of the population has access to this service, followed by the United States.

One of the main explanations of experts to justify the lack of use of this system: Companies that incorporate the QR code in their promotion strategies provide no information.
The Barcelona City Council has launched an application for smartphones, a system that provides information about the 43 municipal markets, downloadable via the QR code in all markets and in Apple and Android stores. 

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