While there has been a lot of talk about social media, blogs and twitter, the rising popularity of smart phones with cameras has seen another boom: QR codes.

Invented in Japan in the 90s, QR (as in Quick Response) codes are now making their way into North America. Most recently, they have been adopted by marketers to take advantage of camera phones to engage clients and prospects.

It’s simple: capture the QR code with your smart phone and the specialized software reads the data and works with it. They can be used for encoding web addresses, text messaging, contact information, text files, or emails. If your QR code contains a web address, your phone’s browser will immediately take you to the web site. The Hamilton Spectator conducted a walking tour in Hamilton. At each destination, you scanned the code, which opened a web page with information about the destination. Want to do a survey? Use a QR code to have someone text their response to you. See the potential?

How does it work? First, your phone has to be equipped with a camera. Next, you need a QR code reader application. Most of them are free. The web site mobile-barcodes.com offers links to several. iPhone or iPad users can search ‘QR code’ in the iTunes App store. (I use ‘Scan’.) The phone also needs to have access to the services it invokes (the internet, messaging, etc.). QR codes themselves are affordable. Some sites on the web will generate them for free for non-commercial use. For commercial use or print reproduction, barcode manufacturers can also make them for a nominal fee.

What do you think? Do you see a use for this in your marketing? Join the conversation.