The plain-Jane QR code had a hi-tech beginning – Toyota used them in their manufacturing process for scanning automobile components. From there, QR codes have made the journey to even fashion ramps. That demonstrates their popularity, but not quite their usefulness. We need to give more examples. Tim gave a few when he talked about some great uses for QR codes. QR – Quick Response – codes have three noteworthy features. QR codes transport URLs very well. You can make them yourself easily, and you can read them just as easily with the many barcode scanning apps available for smartphones (e.g. Barcode Scanner for Android).
You may say that QR codes are fads, some may say QR codes are awesome…the moot point is that it’s a tool, and with a bit of thought, QR codes can be used in fun and useful ways around the house too. Here are a few I put together with some nice examples found around the web. If you believe in doing things differently, read on.
The Audio Fridge Door Note
Can’t get through to your kids? It’s time to ditch the fridge note and pick up a handy QR generator instead. Kids are more easily susceptible to technology and the novelty of QR codes with custom messages placed covertly in least-expected areas (like a messy cupboard, a lunch box, or on the video game console) could get their attention. QR Voice helps you create a code which can be scanned and listened to. The QR code can be left on the fridge door or any other place. We covered the text to speech tool briefly last year. Of course, there are better ways to communicate, so I would put this down as more of a fun use.
This is a hack which is often spoken about, but it remains relevant if you want to quickly share your Wi-Fi with guests and friends. We have briefly covered a tool likebefore that helps you quickly generate a code with your Wi-Fi parameters. QRStuff and QR Code Generator are other tools you can check out. You can download and print the QR code. Keep it next to your router or hang it up for your guests. You will be saved the bother of repeatedly giving the Wi-Fi details orally.
Lost and Found
I remember reading about the cure for forgetfulness with QR codes in an article. The article goes into the details of how to use QR codes printed in key chains that allows anyone with a smartphone (and hopefully a QR code app) to read the message and contact you. As an offshoot, you can generate your own QR code with contact details like phone number, have them printed out in stickers, and use them on items which you tend to misplace like phones and…pets.
Moving & Packing
This is a real-world use which is surprisingly effective. QR codes can store text information among other things. QR Code labelled stickers with the inventory of what’s inside a particular package or box is a good time-saving device. A quick scan with a QR code reader saves you dollops of time when you have shifted house and are rummaging around for that hammer among the litter of boxes.
Tag Your Electronics
An idea to go completely paperless – connect your devices’ manuals to the devices through QR codes. You can keep the manual PDFs on Dropbox (or any other cloud drive) and convert the URL to a QR code. Paste the code sticker on your device. The next time when you need to consult the manual, you can do so straight from your smartphone by scanning the code on the device. You can also encode data like a device’s purchase date, serial number, and customer service center number and keep it handy for ready reference. You can also include your name and address as a basic “anti-theft” precaution.
Tag Your Books
I love time-stamping my books with the date of purchase or that of a gift. QR codes allow me to do it in a cooler way. For the sake of nostalgia, I can write a story behind the purchase and include tiny bits of information like where I purchased the book or who gifted it to me. Writing this by hand sullies the beauty of a freshly purchased hardcover edition. The abstract beauty of a QR code sticker on the back page takes less away. A deeper use could be to link the book in your hand to wider informational resources on the web like a Wikipedia article or a YouTube video.
“Multimedia” Greeting Cards
Get creative with your greeting cards. Yes…yes I know – no one sends physical greeting cards anymore. But imagine what you could do with a combo that uses a physical greeting card and a QR code stuck on it that links to an online home video shouting out the “real greeting”. You can turn a cheap greeting card into a dynamic multimedia card with a more personal touch. Host your home video on YouTube (with privacy applied) and even Dropbox. You simply take the link and convert it into a QR code. Print it on a greeting card.
I remember my wedding card had one page devoted to directions to the reception hotel. On hindsight I wish my guests had been tech savvy enough for me to use QR codes. It would have allowed me to use encode Google Maps with clear directions and print it in a fraction of the area it ultimately took. You can do it for your events and house parties by simply mapping the exact Point A to Point B addresses on Google Maps and converting it into a QR code. The new Google Maps makes it easier with directions. You can also embed the Street View URL in a QR code. Use a link shortener to make the QR code a bit neat and easier to scan. I couldn’t figure out a way to include both Google Maps and Street View (where available) in a single URL, but a site like TripGeo could be of help. We had covered it briefly some years back.
Using QR codes around the house is limited only by your imagination. Web apps like Kaywa and Goqr make it easy to create and print QR codes quickly. I once wrote about five websites that helped you use QR codes differently. Remember QR codes can be used not only for linking you to a website, but also for pure information. This will help you figure out how to creatively use QR codes around the house. I am hoping that some of the ideas will spill over into the comments. C’mon…give it a try even if you haven’t used QR codes so far.
Image Credit: The Darling Librarian; cogdogblog; EEPaul; Woman scanning QR Code; János Balázs