7 Cool facts about QR codes you didn’t know (And how to use QR codes at home)

The QR codes are everywhere, but where did they come from?

Richa Sharma
5 min readOct 8, 2020

Aren’t QR codes a familiar sight these days? In a touch-free world, the QR code is having its moment. Did you scan one to check-in into a building today? Or probably used one to make a contactless payment! And we all miss scanning our Boarding Pass’ QR codes, don’t we?

Scanning QR codes has become a part of our daily lives. But did you know how QR (Quick Response) codes came about?

So here’s the story of the omniscient QR code. In the early 1990s, automobile manufacturing companies were mostly using barcode scanning. These barcodes, just like the ones on our grocery shopping items, were designed to be scanned mechanically, by a narrow beam of light.

Unfortunately, each barcode could hold only up to 25 characters of data.

Now for the auto industry, 25 characters were way too limited, as they were required to store loads of information like sender/ receiver/component data etc.

Therefore, often to convey what’s inside a box, multiple barcodes had to be used.

Scanning Multiple BarCodes. Image by Thanks for your Like from Pixabay

As workers had to scan as many as approximately 1,000 barcodes per day, it was becoming increasingly laborious to scan so many barcodes for one single item.

Consequently, like most auto-related innovations of that decade, QR was invented in Japan, solely for the auto manufacturing industry. There was a Japanese engineer — Hara Masahiro who worked with DENSO Corp, a company that manufactured barcode scanners and Optical Character Readers.

Masahiro Hara
General Manager / Engineering Department 2
Engineering Division 2, AUTO-ID BU

Hara with a development team of only two members, set about to solve the problem of multiple barcode scanning. Moreover, since products were increasingly being downsized, creating a code that could be printed in a smaller area was required.

Hara developed a two-dimensional barcode in the shape of a square, effectively tackling the issue of limited data capacity.

The 2D QR code could now store up to 7000 characters!

A QR Code resembles a Skyscraper Aerial View

His inspiration came from how skyscrapers dot a city line.

Hara also used squares in the corner of QR codes that would allow scanners to recognise QR codes instantly and from any angle.

In 1994 Hara Masahiro launched his brainchild at an automobile trade meeting. There was a roaring success, and soon after Japan’s car companies quickly adopted QR codes. The humble beginnings QR code later grew into a “public code” used by people all over the world.


QR Codes on a Subway Platform. Image courtesy DesignBoom
  • In 2011 TESCO launched world’s first virtual retail stores “HomePlus” in a South Korea subway using QR codes, allowing people to scan the QR Code featured next to each product and add them to their virtual cart. The products would then get delivered at the consumer’s doorstep.
  • Did you know there is a 42-feet-wide QR code painted onto the roof of Facebook’s headquarters in California? Created as part of Zuckerberg’s ‘Space Hackathon’ in 2012, it links to the Facebook QR code page.
Facebook’s rooftop giant QR Code. Image Courtesy Mark Pike
  • AMAZON GO stores use QR code technology to boot up your virtual carts.
Amazon Go stores use QR Code to add items to your cart
  • The logic behind the name “QUICK”: Haven’t we all successfully scanned a QR code even while hurriedly walking past by it.Since the focus was placed on high-speed reading, the code was named “QUICK”.

It can be read at more than 10 times the speed of other codes.

  • Dust and damage resistant: Originally developed for factory use, QR codes can withstand stains and damage. Try scanning a scratched up QR code to find yourself.

Data can be read even if the QR code is damaged up to 30%.

  • QR codes can also store the Japanese Kanji & Kana characters. English is a single-byte language which means that every character of the language can be represented in a single byte and can represent up to 255 characters. However, characters in languages such as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean are double-byte characters, and thus can store even more data.
  • Check out this blog to see how some other cool brands are using QR codes innovatively.

Geeky ways to use QR codes at home

Replace Post-it notes on the fridge with quirky personalized QR codes Go crazy, friends.

Share your wi-fi connection using a QR code.

Tag your key fobs, electronics or even dog-collars, in case they get lost.

Dog Collar with QR code

The QR codes are here to stay and will get even more advanced and secure with the 3D hologram technology. So create more QR codes and enjoy!



Richa Sharma

Himalayas, Books, Masala Chai — in that order. Engineer turned Finance & DataViz geek. AI and 3D Printing enthusiast. Recent interests CRISPER and Space Travel!