QR Code

2D Symbologies

Symbology QR code

A QR code, known in full as a Quick Response code, consists of dark or light-colored squares arranged in a square grid on a contrasting background. It can be read by a smart device camera, scanner or other imaging devices from any angle. They are usually black but can also appear in different colors, provided there is sufficient contrast between the code’s dark and light cells.

In fact, QR codes are becoming increasingly creative with the launch of AI QR code generators. AI augments QR codes into beautiful and distinctive graphical forms.

Like Data Matrix barcodes, QR codes can encode a large amount of data in a small space. They can encode even more than Data Matrix codes – up to 4296 alphanumeric characters, 7089 numerical characters, 1817 Kanji characters, or 2953 bytes of information.

Because of their larger data storage capabilities, QR codes barcodes (and Data Matrix codes) are set to replace UPC/EAN barcodes through the GS1 Sunrise 2027 initiative. Both serve traditional product identification purposes but can store far more information compared to UPC and EAN barcodes.

Characteristics of a QR code

  • One of the smaller and more reliable barcodes – uses 10x less space to encode data than a traditional barcode.
  • Encrypt information so provide greater security than 1D barcodes.
  • Supports any ASCII character (value 0-127) – including numeric, alphanumeric, binary data, symbols, control codes and Kanji characters,
  • Full 360 degrees reading features.
  • Reads at high speed regardless of the scanning angle due to its three-position detection panels.
  • Robust error correction capabilities and ability to withstand up to 30% of damage yet still be readable.
  • Different error correction levels can be defined.
  • Standardized use through the ISO/IEC 18004 international standard.

Application areas

QR codes have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to store large amounts of data. They can be read easily using a mobile device’s camera, making them ideal for use in marketing and advertising campaigns. They are often used to track customer interactions, make payments or share information such as website links, media channels, videos, product features and promotions.

QR codes are also often used to share product information throughout the supply chain within retail, for example, and for payment transactions and authentication purposes such as contact tracing or ticket verification.


The majority of QR codes can be read by any smart device with a camera. However, built-in QR code readers (e.g. in an iPhone’s camera app or built into the browser) and some barcode SDK scanners do not support Micro QR codes.

Scandit’s barcode scanning software supports all major barcode types, including Micro QR codes.

Regarding QR codes specifically, the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK:

  • Supports Model 2 QR codes, including color inversion and mirroring.
  • Identifies GS1 codes to signal that they contain GS1 data.


Test our fast and reliable scanning for yourself on our demo apps.

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QR code FAQs

What is the difference between a QR code and a Data Matrix code?

QR codes have a finder pattern consisting of three square structures placed at the top right, top left, and bottom left corners, while Data Matrix barcodes have an L-shape as their finder pattern.

Both QR codes and Data Matrix barcodes are two-dimensional barcodes. However, QR codes are larger and can contain more data than Data Matrix codes. Because QR codes were invented in Japan, they can also include Kanji, and other multi-byte character sets. Data Matrix codes, on the other hand, can only encode information from numeric and alphanumeric characters.

By comparison, Data Matrix codes are physically smaller than QR codes, so offer higher data density at a very small size. This makes them ideal when space is limited, for example, for marking individual product parts such as electronic components.

When were QR codes invented?

The QR code was originally developed in 1994 by Japanese corporation Denso Wave, a division of Denso (then a subsidiary of Toyota), for labeling and tracking automotive parts during the assembly process.

What are QR codes used for?

QR codes are commonly used to market goods and services and share information, such as product details, loyalty programs, website links, and contact information. They are a simple and low-cost way to create omnichannel experiences that connect physical goods (in a retail store for example) with digital experiences and systems.

They are also increasingly being used for payment transactions and authentication purposes such as contact tracing or ticket verification.

How many types of QR codes are there?

There are at least seven different types of QR code. Within each type there may also be different options suitable for different use cases.

  • QR codes model 1 and model 2 are the most common type of QR codes, with more than 30 different options for business or personal use. Model 1 can store up to 1167 numerical characters, while model 2 can store up to 7089 numerical characters.
  • A Micro QR code is a compact and simplified version of the traditional QR code, developed for applications where space is limited. Encoding is limited to 35 characters or 128 bits.
  • An iQR code is a lot more efficient at encoding data than traditional QR codes. They support a smaller minimum size and can store up to 40,000 numerical characters.
  • An SQRC code appears like a regular QR code, but its use is restricted to storing confidential information.
  • FrameQR code can contain letters and images for promotional purposes.
  • The HCC2D (high capacity colored two-dimensional) is a prototype QR code being developed by researchers to preserve QR robustness to distortions.

What is a dynamic QR code?

A dynamic QR code allows a destination URL to be changed after the QR code has been generated. The use of a short URL in dynamic QR codes can also enable data to be collected, such as when, where, and how many times the code has been scanned. Dynamic codes are ideal when the information linked to the QR code changes frequently, like menu items, timetables or product pricing etc.

How do you scan a QR code?

QR codes can be read using almost all smart devices with a camera (such as your smartphone). Open the built-in camera app and hold the device so the QR code appears in the viewfinder of the camera.

The QR code is automatically recognized and the app displays a notification for you to open the link associated with the QR code.

How do you create a QR code?

You can create a QR code using Scandit’s free barcode generator tool.