What Is a QR Code Reader?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2019
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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.

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.


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.


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