You're probably somewhat familiar with the many ways that retailers and businesses have been using QR codes. They seem to be showing up everywhere when it comes to businesses - in stores, magazines, on TV, business cards and mailers. But, did you know that QR codes have lots of great uses outside of marketing?

Original Use for QR Codes

Even though QR codes are terrific for marketing products and services, that was not the original intention for these little square codes. They were originally created by a subsidiary of Toyota called Denso Wave and were created as a tool to efficiently inventory car parts for the auto industry.

Getting Back to Practical Uses for QR Codes

As a QR Diva, I'm passionate about QR codes and love it when I come across cool ways to use QR codes (whether for practical or marketing purposes). I wanted to share with you 5 great practical uses for QR codes that Ive found and would love to hear back from you on ways that you've found to use QR codes.

Practical QR Code Use #1: Special Messages in Greeting Cards

5 Great Practical Uses for QR Codes | Greeting CardsWant to share a video in a printed greeting card? Just find the link to the video you want to share, find a free QR code generator, add the link and it will generate a QR code for you. You can then print that QR code on a slip of paper or a sticker and include it in your greeting card. When the recipient opens your card, they simply scan the QR code and are taken directly to what you wanted them to see and hear. You can make your own video or find one on YouTube. Scan the QR code to the left or click here and you'll see the one that I love to send people on their birthday.

Practical QR Code Use #2: Emergency Contact Information

5 Great Practicl Uses for QR Codes | Emergency Contact InformationMoms will love this one! You know how you leave a list of important numbers and contacts on the refrigerator door for your babysitter? Well, go ahead and leave that list, but add a scannable QR code to it. Here's why, chances are your babysitter has a smartphone. Scanning the code will take her directly to the list of emergency contact numbers you've left her and all she has to do is tap the number to be connected. Just a quicker way to access the numbers. If you use a dynamic QR code to create your list, you can easily keep your contact info up to date just by editing anything that needs to be changed. I've found 2 QR code tools that will let you do just that and they are both free. TagMyDoc works with your Microsoft Word documents and URQ.me lets you edit your QR code within the software.

Practical QR Code Use #3: QR Codes in the Classroom

The University of Nottingham has created and maintains what is known as The Periodic Table of Videos. These are short videos explaining each of the chemical elements. The Periodic Table of QR Codes has also been created using a QR code (one for each of the elements) to link to each of the short videos. You may download this table for your office or classroom by visiting PeriodicVideos.com

Periodic Table of Videos QR Codes | 5 Great Practical Uses for QR Codes

Practical QR Code Use #4: Organizing Your Next Move

5 Great Practical QR Code Uses | QR Codes for MovingI sure wish I had known about this cool app by BoxMeUp a couple years ago when we moved into a condo and put a bunch of stuff in storage! Here's how it works. Each box (they're called containers) is given a name and you'll list all the items in that box or container. Next, you'll print out a QR code for that container and stick it on the box. The items in the boxes are searchable and you can even add a location for the box. In my case, I would have been easily able to locate the items that I have in storage just by searching from my computer or the BoxMeUp app on my phone instead of going to the storage unit and digging through boxes each time I need to find something that's been packed away.

When you think about it, you could probably use this app in a number of different ways. I could see how businesses who want to organize their inventory in an efficient way might consider using the BoxMeUp app.

Practical QR Code Use #5: Luggage Tags - By adding a dynamic QR code to your luggage tag, you can easily update your contact information and leave instructions for anyone finding your luggage in the event it got lost or went missing. The QR code work along the same lines as Practical Use #2 - Emergency Contact Info - only you'd want to make sure the QR code was laminated so it wouldn't get torn or damaged in the course of travel.

If your luggage contained valuables, you could even update your QR code to let anyone finding it know that there was a reward for its safe return.

I hope that some of these uses may have inspired you to start using QR codes in your everyday life. If you've got a great practical use for QR codes, I'd love to hear about it - please comment below.