What Is a QR Code Reader?

G. Wiesen

A Quick Response (QR) code reader is a device or software program that can be used to read and interpret information from an appropriate image. These types of codes are two-dimensional (2D) images that contain many different types of data, such as someone’s phone number and email address. The use of a QR code reader allows a person to quickly and easily see the information contained in the image and then act upon it. This reader is usually a piece of hardware, often a handheld device that can scan a code, though software can be used on a phone or computer.

Most tablets have QR scanner apps.
Most tablets have QR scanner apps.

The basic purpose and function of a QR code reader is to allow someone to usefully interact with these images. A QR code is essentially a 2D barcode, which is square in shape and contains information in a digitized form. The data contained within this graphic is unreadable by a person, as it is relayed through squares and lines that are visually meaningless. Use of a QR code reader, however, allows someone to access the information contained in the image and then see it on a screen for a variety of purposes.

Apps are available to allow a smartphone user to read QR codes.
Apps are available to allow a smartphone user to read QR codes.

One of the most common types of QR code reader is a handheld device that includes a laser scanner and a small screen. The user of this device can point the scanner at a code, which the apparatus then reads to display information on the screen. This type of QR code reader can be used in a warehouse, for example, in which these images are used on different shipments to provide tracking data such as shipment quantity and destination. A worker in such a warehouse can use a reader to quickly scan a shipment, see the information displayed on the screen, and then ensure it is sent out properly.

Smart phones and computers can also view the information in these images, though a QR code reader program needs to be installed. The camera on a smart phone can scan one of these graphics, and then an application or app on the phone is used to read the data contained in it. Someone using a phone as a QR code reader can scan an image on a person’s business card, for example, which then automatically redirects the phone’s web browser to the homepage of that person. There are also websites and software programs that allow a computer to read and relay information about a code on a webpage or contained as a graphic on that machine.

QR code readers allow users to scan and follow links for online purchases, promotions and other information.
QR code readers allow users to scan and follow links for online purchases, promotions and other information.

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