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
Want 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
Moms 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
Practical QR Code Use #4: Organizing Your Next Move
I 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.
16 thoughts on “5 Great Practical Uses for QR Codes Beyond SEO”
How about a doctor’s office with a monitor showing a large QRCode that holds a vcal of the next appointment: scanning it from a smart phone will allow it to go into the patient’s calendar
That’s a great idea, Richard! If there’s a way to make it HIPPA compliant, someone should run this idea!
What a great idea to add a QR code to your luggage tag! I never liked the idea of my personal details being attached to my bags, brilliant! Thank you Julie, what a terrific article.
I agree, Eileen! Who wants all their home address and other personal contact info out there for all to see!
Great post Julie – those are some really creative (and useful) way to use QR codes!
Thank you, Don Campbell!
Thanks for your great article Julie. I love the idea of having emergency contact information on a QR code. This is something I think will really take off in the future if it hasn’t done so already. Thanks for your continuing advise and input to the internet community. You are such an inspiration.
Andrew – Our Web Presence
Thank you for your kind words, Andrew Bamford!
Great post! I think there are more than 5 ways to use QR codes. My company provides affordable technology to the senior and disabled community. One great way we’ve seen QR codes help the senior community is to store all of their medications on a web page that family members keep current. When the senior goes to the doctor, they simply need to give the nurse the QR code which takes them to the current list of medications. This is a life saving application and immensely practical as our senior population grows and grows every day.
Thanks for the terrifically useful post, Julie Larson – QR Diva!
Yes, that’s another great idea, Jay Wasack! I managed an orthopedic practice for a number of years and the patients would bring in these beat up lists of meds that were barely legible. It would be safer for the patient and easier to be able to have clearly typed list of meds that was updated easily on the computer.
Great article! I’ve also seen QR codes being used on ID tags for pets. It’s a great way to keep your contact info up-to-date in case your animal is lost.
Thanks for posting!
Yes, Lisa, QR codes for your pet’s ID tag is an excellent use of a QR code!
Great article Julie, we created AccuTrace and LIVINGMAIL to get direct mail too life! http://livingmail.com/
That’s exactly why I love QR codes, Robert! They breathe life into print media!
Wow, Julie! These are all great! Especially love the QR Codes in the Classroom idea! Another practical use is for installation, troubleshooting or assembly (think furniture)! Just think about that last time you had to assemble furniture or replace a water filter. Imagine how much easier it would be if you had a QR code right there on the item and you could watch a quick video on how to do it! A bunch more ideas here: http://blog.medialab3dsolutions.com/2012/05/qr-codes-sale/
This is an AWESOME post! You made this so easy to understand and gets me excited to implement! Good Job, Julie 🙂
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