You are on page 1of 26


1 .Outlook of QR code 2. Features of QR code 3. Devices that support QR code 4. Encoding and decoding of data in QR code 5. QR code generator 6. QR code reader 7. QR code parts 8. Other 2D and QR codes

1. QR code data capacity 2. Indicators for the type of information present in QR code 3. Version for each type of information 4. Alphanumeric character codes


QR codes, developed by a Japanese company in 1994 (after the invention of smart phones which was invented in the year 1992), have been around for over fifteen years. With the advent of smart and Web capable mobile devices, we witness a steady growth of interesting commercial applications using QR codes. The "QR" is derived from "Quick Response", as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed. QR Codes are common in Japan, where they are currently the most popular type of two dimensional codes. Moreover, most current Japanese mobile phones can read this code with their camera.

As the movement of using QR codes in education is still in its infancy, this document serves to be comprehensive in understanding to fully delineate (a) the user characteristics of QR codes, (b) the processes of making and reading QR codes, (c) the survey of commercial applications using QR codes, (d) the literature review of educational applications using QR codes, and (e) offer suggestions and implementations of QR codes in school education



QR Code is a form of 2D bar codes. A sample is shown in Figure 1. It was developed by Denso-Wave, a Japanese automatic data capture equipment company (Denso, 2009), in 1994. QR stands for Quick Response. It is readable by moderately equipped mobile phones with cameras and QR scanners. Information such as URL, SMS, contact information and plain text can be embedded into the two dimensional matrix. With smart phones, we can visit the Website linked by the URL quickly, we can send the SMS message directly or we can save the contact information onto the address book easily. This format of 2D bar codes is so popular in Japan and emerges gradually around the world because (a) the patent right owned by Denso Wave is not exercised (Denso, 2010a), (b) its specification is disclosed to the public by the company so as the specifications, ISO/IEC 18004:2000&2006 (International Organization for Standardization) and JIS X 0510 (Japanese Industrial Standards), can be formed (ISO, 2010; JISC, 2010), and (c) it has a large data A QR code is capable of holding 7,089numeric characters, 4,296 alphanumeric characters, 2,953 binary bytes, 1,817 Kanji characters or a mixture of them. The data capacity is much higher than other 2D codes such as PDF417, DataMatrix and Maxi Code (Denso, 2010b). It stores information in both vertical and horizontal directions. A QR code can be read from any direction in 360 through position detection patterns located at the three corners as shown in Figure 1. A QR code can be read even it is somewhat distorted by either being tilted or on a curved surface by alignment patterns and timing patterns. The error correction capability against dirt and damage can be up to 30%. A linking functionality is possible for a QR code to be represented by up to 16 QR codes at maximum so that a small printing space is possible. The size of a QR code can vary from 21x21 cells to 177x177 cells by 4 cell-increments in both horizontal and vertical direction. Data can be easily encrypted in a QR code to provide a confidentiality of information embedded in the code. It can also handle various languages. For examples, there are a number of standards adopted by Asian countries like GB/T capacity in a small printout size and high speed scan utilities via mobile devices are readily available.



While conventional bar codes are capable of storing a maximum of approximately 20 digits, QR Code is capable of handling several dozen to several hundred times more information.QR Code is capable of handling all types of data, such as numeric and alphabetic characters, Kanji, Kana, Hiragana, symbols, binary, and control codes. Up to 7,089 characters can be encoded in one symbol

QR Code Data capacity Numeric only Alphanumeric Binary (8 bits) Max. 7,089 characters Max. 4,296 characters Max. 2,953 bytes

2 .Small Printout Size:

Since QR Code carries information both horizontally and vertically, QR Code is capable of encoding the same amount of data in approximately one-tenth the space of a traditional bar code. (For a smaller printout size, Micro QR Code is available.

3.Dirt and Damage Resistant:

QR Code has error correction capability. Data can be restored even if the symbol is partially dirty or damaged. A maximum 30% of code words can be restored

4.Readable from any direction in 360:

QR Code is capable of 360 degree (omni-directional), high speed reading. QR Code accomplishes this task through position detection patterns located at the three corners of the symbol. These position detection patterns guarantee stable high-speed reading, circumventing the negative effects of background interference


Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Fujitsu Siemens, HTC, i-mate, LG, Motorola, Palm, Samsung Almost all mobiles Supported


The format information records two things: the error correction level and the mask pattern used for the symbol. Masking is used to break up patterns in the data area that might confuse a scanner, such as large blank areas or misleading features that look like the locator marks. The mask patterns are defined on a 66 grid that is repeated as necessary to cover the whole symbol. Modules corresponding to the dark areas of the mask are inverted. The format information is protected from errors with a BCH code, and two complete copies are included in each QR symbol. The message data is placed from right to left in a zigzag pattern, as shown below. In larger symbols, this is complicated by the presence of the alignment patterns and the use of multiple interleaved error-correction blocks.

Meaning of format information Message placement within a QR code Larger symbol illustrating interleaved blocks

Four-bit indicators are used to select the encoding mode and convey other information. Encoding modes can be mixed as needed within a QR symbol.
Indicator Meaning


Numeric encoding (10 bits per 3 digits)


Alphanumeric encoding (11 bits per 2 characters)


Byte encoding (8 bits per character)


Kanji encoding (13 bits per character)


Structured append (used to split a message across multiple QR symbols)


Extended Channel Interpretation (select alternate character set or encoding)


FNC1 in first position (see Code 128 for more information)


FNC1 in second position


End of message

After every indicator that selects an encoding mode is a length field that tells how many characters are encoded in that mode. The number of bits in the length field depends on the encoding and the symbol version, as shown below.
Encoding Ver 19 1026 2740














Alphanumeric encoding mode stores a message more compactly than the byte mode can, but cannot store lower-case letters and has only a limited selection of punctuation marks. Two characters are coded in an 11-bit value by this formula: V = 45 C1 + C2 Alphanumeric character codes are as follows.
Code Character Code Character Code Character Code Character Code Character





































Decoding of data

Levels and masks



To prepare a document embedded with QR codes, the simplest way to do is to generate the specific codes using some of the tools available from the Internet. These images can then be embedded into the document at the appropriate places. If the mobile device does not build in any QR code reader, the user needs to download the right decoder from the Internet and installs it on to the device. The following steps illustrate the processes. Step 1: To encode the required text/SMS/URL/Contact into a QR code, we can make use of some Websites that can generate the code for us. These include: 1.Kaywa: 2.ZXing Project: 3.NFC Games: 4.Delivr: An example with

Step 2: The Website will generate the QR code for you as shown above


Step 1: We can save the generated image file and embed it into wherever we want in the document. Step 2: We need to load the mobile device with the right decoder. You can find many application Websites supplied the decoders for different mobile devices. These include: 1. i-nigma: 2. Quickmark: Step 3: We need to install the application into the device Step 4: For the document with the embedded image, the user can just slide the decoder over the area and the text will automatically be displayed as shown below. If the text is an URL, you can just click the link and the reader will take you to the Website. If the text is a contact record, the reader can save the record to the address book of the phone with just one click. An example with


Rule 1: Content is King! Make your content valuable! Rule 2: Mobilize the landing page! Rule 3: Keep the URL short!

Qrcode data capacity:

Numeric only Alphanumeric Binary (8 bits) Kanji/Kana Max. 7,089 characters Max. 4,296 characters Max. 2,953 bytes Max. 1,817 characters

Version: This gives the version of the QR code

Format information: Once after encoding the data if the data has to be changed
in the QR code it can be changed

Data and error correction keys: QR code has the capacity of retaining 30%
of the lost data if the code is scratched or damaged. This error correction is done by data and error correction keys.

Position: This consists of position detection patterns located at upper left, upper
right and lower left regions .Each position detection pattern may be viewed as three superimposed concentric squares and is constructed of dark 7x7 modules, light 5x5 modules and dark 3x3 modules.

Alignment pattern: Each alignment pattern may be viewed as three

superimposed concentric squares and is constructed of dark 5x5 modules ,light 3x3 modules and a single central dark module .The number of alignment patterns depend on the symbol version and they shall be placed in all model2 symbols of version2 or larger in position.

Timing pattern: The horizontal and vertical timing patterns respectively

consists of a one module wide row or column of alternating dark and light modules ,commencing and ending with a dark module .The horizontal timing pattern runs across row 6 of the symbol between the separators for the upper position detection patterns; the vertical timing pattern similarly runs down column 6 of the symbol between the separators for the left-hand position detection patterns. They enable the symbol density and versions to be determined and provide datum positions for determining module coordinates.

1. Any cell phone with a camera and the ability to install software that can interpret the code. 2. What the device can do with the resulting data will vary depending on the devices other features. (i.e. Internet connection)

1.Barcode Scanner (Android) 2.Quickmark (iPhone) 3.BeeTagg QR Code Reader (Windows Phone and Blackberry) 4.UpCode (Blackberry)

Although encrypted QR Codes are not very common, there are a few implementations. An Android app,for example, manages encryption and decryption of QR codes using DES algorithm (56 bits).Japanese immigration use encrypted QR Codes when placing visas in passports.

Codewords are 8 bits long and use the ReedSolomon error correction algorithm with four error correction levels. The higher the error correction level, the less storage capacity. The following table lists the approximate error correction capability at each of the four levels: Level L (Low) 7% of codewords can be restored. Level M (Medium) 15% of codewords can be restored. Level Q (Quartile)[28] 25% of codewords can be restored. Level H (High) 30% of codewords can be restored. Due to the design of ReedSolomon codes and the use of 8-bit codewords, an individual code block cannot be more than 255 codewords in length. Since the larger QR symbols contain much more data than that, it is necessary to break the message up into multiple blocks. The QR specification does not use the largest possible block size, though; instead, it defines the block sizes so that no more than 30 error-correction symbols appear in each block. This means that at most 15 errors per block can be corrected, which limits the complexity of certain steps in the decoding algorithm. The code blocks are then interleaved together, making it less likely that localized damage to a QR symbol will overwhelm the capacity of any single block. Thanks to error correction, it is possible to create artistic QR Codes that still scan correctly, but contain intentional errors to make them more readable or attractive to the human eye, as well as to incorporate colors, logos and other features into the QR Code block


1. Barcodes represented by bars are designed across only one dimension. They are spread across horizontally as well as vertically, and thus they have a square appearance in contrast to the single line rectangular looking bars that barcodes can easily be identified with 2. Since the information is stored horizontally in barcode the information encoded in it is very less when compared to QR code because QR code can store information both horizontally and vertically 3. The vertical and horizontal layouts of QR codes allow QR codes to contain more information than a barcode can possibly contain. In fact QR codes can hold up to thousands of alphanumeric 4. Primarily barcodes are used as a means to track product information where as QR code is versatile i.e it can store any kind of information in any language. 5. Barcode can contain only up to 20 numeric characters .QR code can store very large amount of information when compared to barcode 6. Since the information is stored only horizontally in barcode the amount of data it can store is 1/10th of the information stored by QR code since in QR code the information is stored both horizontally and vertically. 7. Generally there will be set of numbers below the bar code to retain the information present in the barcode if the code is damaged. But in QR code there is no such necessity since QR code has error correction capacity, 30% of the lost information can be retained even if the code is damaged or scratched. 8. Barcode needs a scanner ,QR code needs small devices like mobiles which contains QR code scanner in it. Bardode doesnt need internet connection like QR code.

QR code cab be any Text Website URL Telephone Number SMS Message Contact Details (VCARD) Google Map Facebook Profile Brands can use QR codes in all kinds of new ways to reach consumers. QR codes can be used on posters and billboards, providing anyone with a cell phone immediate access to everything from information on consumer prize campaigns to addresses and maps for retail outlets QR codes are also handy for various branding purposes. They can be used to direct mobile phone users to special websites to download brand ads, ringtones, character logos, viral videos, branded flash games and more. Similarly, movie studios make it easy to view coming attractions by printing QR codes on posters that are hung all over the world. Scan the codeyou're watching previews of films right on your phone 1.Fast food brands can print QR codes on sandwich wrappers. One quick scan and you're instantaneously provided with nutritional and/or ingredient information. 2.Retailers can print them on receipts. 3.Event producers employ them to provide exhibit information 4.Doctor's offices and beauty salons use them to let people make appointments over their mobile phones. 5.Companies can print them on business cards so clients and suppliers can suck contact info right into their cell phones and PDAs. 6.TV shows can use QR codes to appear on the corner of the screen to provide product information

Other 2D codes:

1.Micro QR Code 35 Characters

2.High Capacity Color Barcode3500 characters per square inch

QR code types:

Why QR codes have to stay?

1. Sharing content over the web has become ridiculously popular over the last 5-7 years. 2. Sharing content over the MOBILE web is still pretty new, but has explosive potential! You are already seeing it with adoption of text messaging (texting) and Twitter (tweets), which are both mobile born forms of communication. 3. Everything MUST be easy to share on-the-go (i.e., galleries and product pages). Make it easy for users to post content on Facebook and Twitter in seconds. 4. Make sure that the content is accessible on the web also. Mobile to desktop sharing is still prominent.

The use of QR Codes is free of any license. The QR Code is clearly defined and published as an ISO standard.Denso Wave owns the patent rights on QR Codes, but has chosen not to exercise them.In the USA, the granted QR Code patent is US 5726435 and in Japan JP 293833. The European Patent Office granted patent "EPO 0672994" to Denso Wave, which was then validated into French, British and German patents, all of which are still in force as of November 2011.The word QR Code itself is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated.In UK, the trademark is registered as E921775, the word QR Code, with a filing date of 03/09/1998.The UK version of the trademark is based on the Kabushiki Kaisha Denso (DENSO CORPORATION) trademark, filed as Trademark 000921775, the word QR Code, on 03/09/1998 and registered on 6/12/1999 with the European Union OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market)

Variants: Micro QR Code is a smaller version of the QR Code standard for applications
with less ability to handle large scans. There are different forms of Micro QR Codes as well. The highest of these can hold 35 numeric characters.

Standard QR Code is the QR code standard for applications that possess the
ability to handle large scans. A standard QR Code can contain up to 7,089 characters, though not all QR readers can accept that much data.

Custom or artistic QR codes are standard QR codes that have been modified
for aesthetic purposes or to make it easier for people to recognize a brand. Many companies use different design techniques to help their code stand out among the crowd. These techniques include: adding color, shapes and various techniques such as round or pointed edges.

Malicious QR Codes combined with a permissive reader can put a computer's contents and user's privacy at risk. This practice is known as "attagging", a portmanteau of "attack tagging."They are easily created and may be affixed over legitimate QR Codes On a smartphone, the reader's many permissions may allow use of the camera, full internet access, read/write contact data, GPS, read browser history, read/write local storage, and global system changesRisks include linking to dangerous websites with browser exploits, enabling the microphone/ camera/GPS and then streaming those feeds to a remote server, analysis of sensitive data (passwords, files, contacts, transactions), and sending email /SMS/IM messages or DDOS packets as part of a botnet corrupting privacy settings, stealing identity and even containing malicious logic themselves such as JavaScript or a virus. These actions may occur in the background while the user only sees the reader opening a seemingly harmless webpage.


1. There is no need to write vital details down. A simple scan captures the desired information. 2. QR Codes can be used to store addresses and URLs that can appear in magazines, on signs, buses, business cards or just about any product that users might need information about. 3. QR code provides personal information security

1. Users must be equipped with a camera phone and the correct reader software that can scan the image of the QR Code. 2. Currently only Smartphones are technically equipped to do this. Many users that have mobile phones that have cameras are unable to get QR reading software for their phones. 3. The other disadvantage is user must have knowledge about the code.


This document, provided a holistic view of using QR codes in industry and in education. This demonstrated broad areas to apply QR codes in school education. Overall, the students participated in the experiment found that the activities were interesting. Naturally, the students at this age group were very curious about these new approaches to their otherwise routine exercises. But with this age group, we have additional concerns. First, we must categorically prepare enough mobile devices for the activities. We definitely cannot expect students at the junior levels to carry the right mobile devices to schools. For exercises conducted individually like Mail Trail, the problem is not acute. However, the cost would be prohibitive for a large group of participants. Second, despite it is quite easy to operate a mobile device equipped with a QR code reader, we noticed some students highly tilted the devices when they snapped the codes. Students at this age group need to be trained properly. Third, if the mobile devices are equipped with Wi-Fi access and the activities do have the wireless coverage, the cost for communication would be minimal. Otherwise, we may need to rely on 2G/3G communication provided by mobile carriers. This option can be very expensive. In general, we believe that QR codes have great potential in education. Some possibilities are demonstrated in this paper and there are many creative ideas waiting for us to explore. Also, this document can be served as the first step for the readers to investigate this exciting topic of mobile learning.


[1] Chaisatien, P., & Akahori, K. (2007). Demonstration of an Application on 3G Mobile Phone and Two Dimension Barcode in Classroom Communication Support System. In C. Montgomerie & J. Seale (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2007 (pp 3330-3336). Chesapeake, VA:AACE (EDMEDIA 2007) [2] Denso (2010a). QR Code Standardization. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from [3]Denso (2010b). About 2D Code. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from [4]Denso (2009). Denso Wave Incorporated. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from [5]Elena (2009). Educational Qrcodes. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from /?p=350&language=en [6]ISO (2010). ISO/IEC 18004:2006. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from /iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=43655 [7]ITSC (2008). Section 3: QR Code. Synthesis Journal. Information Technology Standards Committee Singapore. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from /pdf/synthesis08/Three_QR_Code.pdf [8]JISC (2010). JIS X 0510:2004. Retrieved May 15, 2010, from /pager?id=12766 (written in Japanese) [9]JISC (2005). Innovative Practice with e-Learning: a good practice guide to embedding mobile and wireless technologies into everyday practice Bristol: [10]Joint Information Services Committee.Kukulska-Hulme, A., & Traxler, J. (Eds) (2005). Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Educators and Trainers. [11] London: Routledge.Liu, T., Tan, T., & Chu, Y. (2007). 2D Barcode and Augmented Reality Supported English Learning System. Proceeding of the 6th IEEE/ACIS International Conference on Computer and Information Science (pp 5-10). IEEE Computer Society.

[12]Naismith, L., Lonsdale, P., Vavoula, G., & Sharples, M. (2005). Literature Review in Mobile Technologies and Learning, NESTA Futurelab Series. [13]NWT (2010). The National Math Trail. Retrieved September 20, 2010, from [14]Osawa, N., Noda, K., Tsukagoshi, S., Noma, Y., Ando, A., Shinuya, T., & Kondo, K. (2007). Outdoor Education Support System with Location Awareness Using RFID and Symbology Tags. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia 16(4), 411-428. Pachler, N. (Ed.) (2010). [15] Mobile Learning: Structures, Agency, Practices. NY: SpringerRizzo, S. (2009). QR-code Periodic Table of Elements. Retrieved May 15, 2010, from [16]Sharples, M. (Ed.) (2007). Big Issues in Mobile Learning. LSRI, University of NottinghamSo, S. (2008). A Study on the Acceptance of Mobile Phones for Teaching and Learning with a group of Pre-service teachers in Hong Kong. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 1(1), 81-92. [17]Susono, H., & Shimomura, T. (2006). Using Mobile Phones and QR Codes for Formative Class Assessment, In A. Mndez-Vilas, A. Solano Martn, J.A. Mesa Gonzlez and J. Mesa Gonzlez (Eds), Current Developments in Technology-Assisted Education (Vol. 2) (pp 1006-1010). Badajoz, Spain: FORMATEX