New business technology: QR code (2D code)

The QR code was a kind of two dimensional symbology, and the DENSO WAVE (established under the name of DENSO) developed with a main objective of “Code read easily for the reader” in 1994.

The QR code is that carry meaningful information in the vertical direction as well as the horizontal, hence the two-dimensional term. By carrying information in both directions, QR code can carry up to several hundred times the amount of data carried by an ordinary bar codes.

About QR Code

Bar code to 2D Code
Bar codes have become widely popular because of their reading speed, accuracy, and superior functionality characteristics.As bar codes became popular and their convenience universally recognized, the market began to call for codes capable of storing more information, more character types, and that could be printed in a smaller space.As a result, various efforts were made to increase the amount of information stored by bar codes, such as increasing the number of bar code digits or layout multiple bar codes.

However, these improvements also caused problems such as enlarging the bar code area, complicating reading operations, and increasing printing cost.

2D Code emerged in response to these needs and problems

Multiple bar code layout 2D Code with stacked bar codes (stacked bar code type) 2D Code (matrix type)
2D Code is also progressing from the stacked bar code method (that stacks bar codes), to the increased information density matrix method.
About QR Code
QR Code is a kind of 2-D (two-dimensional) symbology developed by Denso Wave (a division of Denso Corporation at the time) and released in 1994 with the primary aim of being a symbol that is easily interpreted by scanner equipment.
QR Code contains information in both the vertical and horizontal
QR Code (2D Code) contains information in both the vertical and horizontal directions, whereas a bar code contains data in one direction only. QR Code holds a considerably greater volume of information than a bar code.
Typical 2D Code
In addition to QR Code, some other kinds of 2D Code have been developed. Below is a table of typical 2D Code and their features.
QR Code PDF417 DataMatrix Maxi Code
Developer(country) DENSO(Japan) Symbol Technologies (USA) RVSI Acuity CiMatrix (USA) UPS (USA)
Type Matrix Stacked Bar Code Matrix Matrix
Data capacity Numeric 7,089 2,710 3,116 138
Alphanumeric 4,296 1,850 2,355 93
Binary 2,953 1,018 1,556
Kanji 1,817 554 778
Main features Large capacity, small printout size
High speed scan
Large capacity Small printout size High speed scan
Main usages All categories OA FA Logistics
Standardization AIM International
AIM International
AIM International
AIM International
QR Code Features
QR Code provides the following features compared with conventional bar codes.
High Capacity Encoding of Data
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 Max. 7,089 characters
Alphanumeric Max. 4,296 characters
Binary (8 bits) Max. 2,953 bytes
Kanji, full-width Kana Max. 1,817 characters
A QR Code symbol of this size can encode 300 alphanumeric characters.
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.
Kanji and Kana Capability
As a symbology developed in Japan, QR Code is capable of encoding JIS Level 1 and Level 2 kanji character set.
In case of Japanese, one full-width Kana or Kanji character is efficiently encoded in 13 bits, allowing QR Code to hold more than 20% data than other 2D symbologies.
QR Code is capable of efficiently encoding Kanji and Kana.
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 codewords*1 can be restored*2.
*1: A codeword is a unit that constructs the data area. In the case of QR Code, one codeword is equal to 8 bits.
*2: Data restoration may not be fully performed depending on the amount of dirt or damage.
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.
Structured Append Feature
QR Code can be divided into multiple data areas. Conversely, information stored in multiple QR Code symbols can be reconstructed as single data symbols.One data symbol can be divided into up to 16 symbols, allowing printing in a narrow area.

The same data can be read either from the upper symbol or the lower four symbols.


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