5 min read

QR Codes and Digital Signage: How to Use Them Properly with Screens

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
October 5, 2022
May 1, 2024

QR codes on digital signage are the present and the future of encoded communication. While on the surface the codes are simple and mundane, the power that these black squares contain is truly impressive. Let’s see how QR codes evolved, what QR codes on digital signage can help you achieve, and how to nail this technology for your business. All of it is in our article.

How QR codes came to be?

Before 1994 bar UPC (Universal Product Code) barcodes reigned supreme. They still are widely used too, but back then the stripes with numbers were omnipresent. All of it until Masahiro Hara, an employee at Japanese automotive company Denso Wave came up with a new way to store data. That was the birth of teh QR code that drastically changed how we store and access information. 

The idea behind the invention came from the Japanese game of Go where players use the 19-by-19 grid. An engineer at Denso Wave at the time, Masahiro had a goal to quicken up the slow process of scanning multiple products at the manufacturing by workers. That’s how the idea to use two-dimensional code instead of one-dimensional one came to fruition. The technology proved super efficient and Masahiro Hara was dimed as a kind of hero from the world of encoding. 

QR in the name stood for “Quick Response”. That made sense because it was quite a revolutionary and swift way to store data. Denso Wave made a gift to the community by allowing everyone to use and the new kind of code has conquered the world. However, it was reserved for specialized use, we’re talking 90s here where the level of the internet was still quite primitive. Denso Wave cashed the technology in by selling scanners that could interact with QR codes.

What the company didn’t quite anticipate in 1994 was the apparition of smartphones with cameras. 2002 was an amazing year for Sharp which brought a cellphone with a built-in QR reader to the market and not so much for Denso Wave which lost the hegemony over the reading of QRs. And that was a turning point in the mass-scale use of this encoded container. With the rise (and rise (and rise)) of the internet the relevance of directing users straight to the page increased. Today it’s hard to imagine a world without the good old QR codes. 

Interestingly enough, there is a website called https://www.qrcode.com/ that looks like it was made in 1994. It’s a hello from Denso Wave which still owns a patent to the code (which is proudly displayed at the bottom of the page). You can check it out to learn more about the creation process of QR. Or just shed a nostalgic tear over the 90s website designs (they don’t do HTML like this anymore).

Where can you use QR codes?

The answer is quite simple. Everywhere where the web page is involved the QR code can be used. Think about it as an embodiment of that blue highlighted link that you click and immediately transported to the destination. Like this. But in real life. 

When you really think about it, the opportunities to use it are truly endless. And the world successfully uses QR codes on digital signage for advertising, in airports, at medical centers, and even on graveyards. Seriously, there is a quite weird new trend that puts a QR code on the tombstone of the deceased. Reading the code you’re transported to a certain page about this person’s life. Now imagine an onlooker seeing someone taking pictures of a tombstone. But it’s 2022 and even the burial grounds are digitized.

QR code itself is just a container, a link to the main destination. It can be a web page, an image, a video, a text, a menu, basically, everything that exists online. And that’s a perfect medium for businesses to use. And here’s where QR codes on digital signage come into play. 

How can you use QR code displays?

When you already have the digital signage, the QR code becomes a type of content you’re showing through the screen. Well, kinda. That’s the beauty of this encoded container. It can be both the supportive element and the content itself. 

For example, if you have screens at your restaurant, you can use them to show the QR codes that lead the customers to the menu. Another use here can be running a special promotion that asks clients to follow you on social media for a, let’s say hamburger. Instead of asking visitors to type in your @burger_joint123 profile handle, you will use a familiar QR code that will transport potential followers to your page in a matter of seconds. 

Another great application is improving digital wayfinding with signage QR codes. For example, if there is a big shopping mall with screens installed across the property, using the QR code with a map will be a great way to give your customers instant access to the map of your complex. Hassle-free and simple, just as it should be. 

QR codes on digital signage are an amazing way to include this tool in your day-to-day operations without having to spend money on printing the stickers or distributing leaflets. It will be a part of your signage strategy and it can be easily combined with the other content you’re showing. Think about it as a helpful extension. 

VR, AR, digital signage and QR codes

Yes, these are a lot of new technological names, we know. But they are made to be together. As VR and AR fastly engulfing the world of advertising, it pays off to keep your hand on the pulse of these advancements. 

We’ve already written about the correlation between VR and digital signage. Now when it comes to QR codes, if screens are the gates to the brand new virtual reality worlds, the QR codes are the handles you push to enter. When you’re designing special VR and AR experiences, the codes will come in handy for easy access for customers.

So make sure that the system is intuitive and uncomplicated for your customers to enjoy it by pairing the capabilities of digital signage and the QR codes. 

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