Super bar codes gaining popularity in U.S.

Chris Bennett, founder and CEO, GovLive

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By Olivia Branco Internet Editor Federal News Radio

What do Manor, Texas and Japan have in common?

Perhaps more than you think.

Both places heavily use QR codes, or quick response codes, a more advanced bar code, in order get information out to the public.

Simple bar codes are nothing new. They’re on nearly everything we purchase in a store. But there’s a new kind of bar code that’s taking off overseas, and it’s starting to gain popularity here as well.

Chris Bennett is the founder and CEO of GovLive. He joined the Dorobek Insider to talk about his blog post about QR codes and when the codes will become popular in the U.S.

“The bar code only stores a few numbers, when you check out something in the grocery store you’ll see a couple numbers in case it doesn’t scan, the cashier can enter into the register.”

A QR code, Bennett explains, is more complex.

“They can hold usually a couple hundred, but even up to a couple thousand characters of information within a tiny square. So if you think about it, you can store names, contact information, date of birth, URL, or an advertising message.”

Bennett explained that the primary way people are able to use and read QR codes is through smart phones and a special application.

“You point your camera phone at the code and it instantly decodes that message and it displays it on the screen and it’s often used to put a website or URL address in that code so that you could, for example, point your camera phone at an ad for a new music single that came out, and that QR code would link you directly to iTunes to download it.”

The QR codes are not only used for fun though. Bennett discussed the benefits of the codes during crisis situations.

“Let’s say somebody is either getting onto an evacuation bus or checking into a shelter, assume there’s no communication, the phone lines are down, you can simply type up on your smart phone device who the evacuee’s name is, date of birth, city they’re coming from, where they’re going to, any information you want and print it out right there. You instantly just stored all of that information about that evacuee and when they get to their destination somebody else could scan that information.”

Bennett and GovLive are hoping to bring the power and convenience of the QR code to more people. Currently you need to have a smartphone in order to read and access the codes, but with new technology, people with regular phones with cameras will be able to take pictures of a code, text message them to the GovLive website, which will in turn reply with a text message of the information.

Bennett said it won’t take long for the technology to take off in the U.S.

“I think it take something that reaches the general public in a big way, someone to use it for the first time and get people’s attention. There’s been rumors that Facebook will put QR codes on bars and restaurants to scan them with your phone and essentially check in the same way you do with Four Square. If Facebook were to do that, then overnight everybody would know what QR codes were.”

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