What Are QR Codes And How QR Codes Work: Decoding QR Code Image And Understanding Working Mechanism

Ilaha Mammadova

Nov 22, 2023

5 min read

Qr Code (Quick Response Code)

Quick response (QR) codes are two-dimensional codes composed of black and white squares scanned with a phone camera or QR scanner, providing quick access to the information. QR codes work by encoding information into them using QR Code Creator. The QR code is important because it holds vast amounts of information and transmits it efficiently to the user. There are 6 different types of QR codes, including IQR, micro QR codes, model 1 QR codes, model 2 QR codes, SQRC codes, Frame QR codes, and HCC2D codes. There are 7 advantages of QR codes, including storage capacity, fast transmission, editability, trackability, customizability, reduced paper waste, and easy generation. 4 common challenges arise for using QR codes, including scanner dependency, safety, internet, and durability.

QR codes are gaining popularity due to their unique features, advantages, and ability to simplify processes. They have become increasingly popular among large and small businesses, eager to take advantage of all that QR codes offer. Furthermore, new and updated types of QR codes have broadened their range of applications, as they now cover more data and come in various designs. Consequently, the use of QR codes in education, healthcare, and safety sectors is expected to grow even further. It is essential to delve deeper into their types, benefits, and challenges to understand how QR codes work and their significance entirely.

What is a QR code?

Quick response (QR) codes are two-dimensional codes composed of black and white squares scanned with a phone camera or QR scanner, providing quick access to the information. QR codes are designed to be read in just a few seconds. Therefore, they are called Quick Response codes, although they hold more information. The discovery of QR codes was made by Denso Wave, a Japanese barcode developer, back in 1984. The use of QR codes is increasing for various purposes, owing to their ability to quickly and efficiently transmit information to the other party.

How does a QR code work?

QR codes work by encoding information into them using QR Code Creator. QR Code Creator encodes information into black and white squares representing pixels in the data area. First, the intended purpose is to create a QR code, and an appropriate solution is selected using a QR Code Creator. Secondly, the QR codes are created and downloaded. They are displayed in print or digitally. The encoded information is directly transmitted to the user upon scanning the QR code using a phone camera or QR code scanner. The entire process takes only a few seconds to complete.

One of the QR codes' significant features is trackability. Each scan is recorded, allowing businesses to track when, where, and how often the QR code is scanned. The tracking capability provides valuable insights into user engagement and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

What is the importance of a QR code?

The importance of a QR code is that it holds vast amounts of information and transmits it efficiently to the user. QR codes store different data types, which are utilized for various purposes. The convenience of QR codes is one of the primary reasons for their importance. In particular, the importance of QR codes is increasing daily. QR codes are used for various marketing campaigns and advertisements, making them cost-effective for businesses. Companies obtain data by tracking QR codes, enabling them to identify improvement opportunities. Furthermore, businesses enhance their brand identity by incorporating branding elements like logos within QR codes. Therefore, QR code technology is of great importance to businesses.

Why does a QR code exist?

QR codes exist to transfer information to another party quickly and efficiently simply by scanning it. QR codes are valuable for streamlining processes and simplifying tasks across all sectors. QR codes serve many purposes, including marketing, inventory management, and payment processing. QR codes greatly facilitate work and assist in all marketing activities as a tool for marketing. QR codes are used to manage inventory in warehouses, while in stores, they are used to process payments. The versatility of the QR code has significantly expanded since its inception, allowing it to be used for various purposes.

What are the different types of QR codes?What are the different types of QR codes?

There are 6 different types of QR codes, including IQR, micro QR codes, model 1 QR codes, model 2 QR codes, SQRC codes, Frame QR codes, and HCC2D codes. Each type of QR code has different patterns and, therefore, different pixels, allowing various numerals to be placed inside each type. Each type varies based on storage capacity, size, and error correction level.

The 6 different types of QR codes are listed below.

1. IQR code

IQR codes are a type of QR code with a rectangular shape. The primary characteristic of IQR codes is their ability to store information extensively. The maximum version of IQR codes is 61 (422x422), which stores approximately 40,000 characters. An IQR code has one or even half of the finder patterns to save space. One of the main advantages of IQR codes is their ability to be scanned. IQR codes have an error correction level of up to 50%, meaning they recover up to 50% of damaged information. One disadvantage of IQR codes is that their rectangular shape makes them less recognizable to users, hindering their effectiveness. IQR codes are primarily used for industrial purposes.

2. Micro QR codes

Micro QR codes are the minor type of QR code available, which offer advantages and disadvantages. Micro QR codes come in four variations, ranging from M1 to M4, with M4 being the maximum version that holds the most information. The main disadvantage of Micro QR codes is their limited storage capacity due to their small size. Micro QR codes only store up to 35 numerals, and a single finder pattern with four wide-range modules is enough to generate them. However, the small size of Micro QR codes is an advantage, as they are printed on minimal surfaces, making them ideal for various purposes. For instance, Micro QR codes are often used in product packaging.

3. Model 1 QR code

The Model 1 QR code is the original type of QR code. The Model 1 QR codes have a relatively low storage capacity, making storing large amounts of information difficult. Model 1 QR codes have limited scanning capabilities. Another drawback of Model 1 QR codes is their relatively low error correction level. The largest version of the Model 1 QR code is version 14, which has a size of 73 by 73 modules and stores up to 1,167 numerals. These codes are not typically preferred due to their limited capacity and scanning capabilities. They are still utilized for specific applications, such as product tracking.

4. Model 2 QR code

The Model 2 QR code is an updated original version, offering several advantages over its predecessor. Model 2 QR code has improved scanning capabilities, which are made feasible by the alignment pattern located within the code. One of the primary advantages of the Model 2 QR code is its increased storage capacity. The largest version of the Model 2 QR code is version 40, which has a size of 177 by 177 modules and stores significantly more data than the Model 1 QR code. The error correction level of the Model 2 QR code is greater than that of the Model 1 code. Today, Model 2 QR codes are widely used in various applications, including marketing, payments, and more.

5. SQRC codes

Secret-function-equipped (SQR) codes are access-restricted, and the feature makes them different from others. SQRC contains both public and private information, with private information being concealed when scanned with a standard smartphone camera. Only those individuals or devices with the appropriate authorization level access the private information contained within the SQRC. It makes the SQRC code particularly advantageous when it comes to protecting sensitive information. However, the downside to the SQR code's increased complexity level is that SQRC is more prone to technical issues that result in errors. There is no fixed storage capacity size for these codes. SQRC is often used in supply chain deliveries.

6. Frame QR codes

Frame QR codes are in the shape of a frame, allowing for the placement of any logo or image in the central part of the code. It is one of the key advantages of Frame QR codes, as it creates an attractive and engaging visual that helps to increase the scan rate. However, a potential disadvantage of incorporating logos or images is that it interferes with the readability of the QR code if not appropriately placed, making it difficult to scan. Frame QR code is often used for marketing due to their eye-catching appearance. It is important to note that there is no fixed storage capacity size for these codes, as it varies depending on the specific design and implementation of the QR code.

7. HCC2D codes

High Capacity Colored 2-Dimensional (HCC2D) QR codes are entirely composed of colors, which is a critical difference from traditional QR codes. HCC2D codes offer a higher storage capacity than traditional QR codes and a higher error correction level. The colors of HCC2D codes are selected from a palette of either 4 or 8 colors, allowing for the encoding of each module in either 2 bits/module or 3 bits/module, respectively. The primary objective of HCC2D codes is to increase data density while minimizing the potential for decoding errors caused by chromatic distortions.


Deliver information quickly with a QR code! 

Create the perfect QR code effortlessly with QR Code Creator. Enhance the marketing materials and streamline information sharing with our reliable tool.

What are the advantages of using QR codes?

The 7 advantages of using QR codes are listed below.

  • More storage capacity: QR codes store a diverse range of information. The information includes website URLs, locations, marketing materials, campaigns, etc.
  • Fast Transmission: QR codes enable the swift transmission of information to the user. Scanning the code just once lets the user view the information on their screen by following the link. The entire process is completed within a matter of seconds.
  • Editable: QR codes are edited at any time. Editing the information within QR codes is a seamless process accomplished at a time. Creating a new QR code is unnecessary whenever information changes are required.
  • Trackable: QR codes allow for the tracking of scans. Utilizing QR codes provides access to a dashboard where the number of scans, the device used to scan, and the time of each scan are all displayed. The feature is crucial for marketing campaigns as it enables essential data collection.
  • Customizable: QR codes are customized to match a brand's unique style. They are customized to include the brand's logo and colors, ensuring they align with the company's overall branding when QR codes are used for business purposes.
  • Reduced paper waste: QR codes help reduce paper waste. There is no need for large amounts of text to be printed on sheets of paper by incorporating all necessary information within a QR code.
  • Easy generation: QR codes are generated easily with QR Code Creator. Creating a QR code with a custom design is accomplished in just a few minutes using QR Code Creator without additional tools.

What are the challenges of using QR codes?

Listed below are the 4 challenges of using QR codes.

  • Dependency of scanner: Scanning QR codes is not feasible for individuals with older model phones, limiting their ability to access information through these codes.
  • Safety: There are instances where QR codes are utilized for nefarious purposes, resulting in potential harm to the device scanning the code and the personal information stored within it.
  • Dependency of the Internet: An internet connection and accessibility are imperative to access while using a QR Code for the linked information following scanning, as dynamic QR codes transmit data directly.
  • Durability: QR codes deteriorate and fail to redirect to the intended information when scanned after damage.What are the advantages and disadvantages of using QR codes?

How can QR codes be used in mobile payments?

QR codes can be used in mobile payments by scanning them on a mobile device using a camera, which links to the payment page. First, a merchant submits a payment QR code to the customer, the code is scanned, and the payment details appear on the switched page. Secondly, the details have been confirmed, and the payment process is completed. Some companies or brands offer payment apps that scan QR codes and complete transactions. Furthermore, a QR code containing the customer's payment information initiates payment. The customer presents the QR code to the seller, who scans it and confirms the details before processing the payment.

What are the security concerns surrounding the use of QR codes?

The 5 security concerns surrounding the use of QR codes are listed below.

  • Seizing card data: There is a risk that card data are compromised or substituted with other card information during payment. Consequently, the transferred funds end up in a different account than intended.
  • Seizing personal data: Cybercriminals send fake QR codes via email or messaging platforms and intercept personal information once the codes are scanned.
  • Installing malicious programs into the device: Cybercriminals install malicious programs easily. Malicious programs are downloaded once the QR code is scanned.
  • Determining location: Fraudsters capture the other party's address and determine their location if the QR code is scanned.
  • Connecting insecure websites: Scanning QR codes sometimes directs people to malicious and dangerous sites.

What are some innovative ways to use QR codes?What are some innovative ways to use QR codes?

Some innovative ways to use QR codes are listed below.

  • Social Media: QR codes are used to link all of a company’s social media accounts and, when scanned, direct users to their social media profiles.
  • Digital Menus: QR codes allow restaurants to offer customers the menu with one QR code scanning instead of printing menus with multiple pages.
  • Virtual Tours: QR codes are handy for real estate agencies, as they provide a virtual tour of a property without needing potential buyers to visit it physically.
  • E-Learning: QR codes are instrumental in books, as scanning them switches to an audio version, allowing users to listen to the book instead of reading it.
  • Event Entry: QR codes streamline check-in to avoid long queues during event entry.
  • Mobile Payments: QR codes eliminate the need for cash or cards by allowing the payment process to be completed with just one scan.
  • Navigation: QR codes provide directions by linking to an address in Google Maps or Waze when scanned.
  • Wi-Fi: QR codes connect to the internet in a specific area by scanning a Wi-Fi QR code.
  • Digital Campaigns: QR codes link to campaign pages for marketing campaigns, allowing users to join the campaign quickly. 

How can businesses implement QR codes effectively?

Businesses can effectively implement QR codes by customizing them according to their brand and tracking the data provided by the QR code. QR codes are employed in various ways, including conducting special campaigns, promoting products or services, and organizing events or marketing activities. The first step is to determine the purpose of the QR code, such as increasing website traffic, promoting social media accounts, or providing detailed product information. For example, QR codes are used in a marketing campaign to promote the campaign, encourage participation, and collect participant feedback. Secondly, businesses gather valuable insights for future campaigns and events by tracking the QR code data. Businesses enhance their brand identity and increase engagement by designing QR codes that align with their branding.

How do QR codes compare to barcode technology?

QR codes differ from barcodes based on the information within them, the scanner used to scan them, and their intended uses. Firstly, QR codes store more diverse information with a higher capacity, unlike barcodes, which only store numerical information. It includes links, PDFs, and contact information. Secondly, the versatility has led to QR codes being used in a wide range of applications, including both personal and business use. Contrarily, the use of barcodes is more limited. Thirdly, scanning QR codes is simplified as it is done using a phone camera, whereas barcodes require a specialized scanner.How do QR codes compare to barcode technology?

How did the popularity of QR codes innovate over time?

The popularity of QR codes has innovated over time since the early 2000s, coinciding with the rise in mobile phones capable of scanning them. QR codes are easily scanned with people’s phone cameras for convenience. The widespread use of QR codes for various purposes, such as marketing campaigns, increased their popularity and recognition. However, the most significant surge in QR code usage is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

People required contactless ways to obtain information and perform specific processes fulfilled by QR codes during the COVID-19 pandemic. It included QR code payment and the use of digital menus in restaurants. QR codes simplified these processes by allowing people to scan and access the necessary information without physical contact. The use of QR codes continued to rise due to the development of new types of QR codes used for various purposes by businesses even after the pandemic.

What are the future applications for QR codes?

There are 3 main future applications for QR codes are listed below.

  • Augmented reality: Augmented reality (AR) is seeing a rise in usage, particularly among businesses developing innovative products incorporating AR. Augmented reality uses QR codes to seamlessly transition to an AR experience, such as a virtual tour or product try-on, making it one of the most commonly used tools for AR in the future by scanning them.
  • Internet of Things: QR codes offer an easy and secure way to connect devices and things to the Internet by scanning QR codes. The use of QR codes for the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to increase.
  • Smart cities: QR codes are expected to increase use in developing smart cities, where their use is limited. Processes are simplified and more efficient by using QR codes for street signs, transportation, and parking.

How can QR codes be used in educational settings?

QR codes can be used in educational settings, such as sharing lesson materials, facilitating interactive games, simplifying document distribution, and gathering student feedback. For instance, teachers compile all necessary materials using different QR codes. Student information is placed in one code, and other work related to the lesson is stored in another. Questions are transmitted to students through QR codes during exams, eliminating the need for printed paper. Students access the exam questions and participate in the assessment with a single scan. QR codes are created for interactive games and quizzes, allowing students to switch to the section with a scan easily. QR codes are used for student identification and attendance tracking. A standard QR code is scanned to verify participation in the lesson. Collecting feedback from students is streamlined by employing a feedback QR code.

Do QR codes expire?

No, QR codes do not expire. However, dynamic QR codes that require an active subscription stop working if the subscription fee is unpaid. Dynamic QR codes are edited and tracked at any time. Therefore, QR code generators typically charge a fee for their use. A fee for their use often includes a scan limit, indicating how often the QR code is scanned. QR codes no longer redirect users to the intended information if the scan limit is reached. However, it is only a temporary limitation. The QR code is reactivated by paying the fee again or purchasing a new package at a different price point. Static QR codes are not edited once created. Therefore, QR Code Creator offers them free, with no scan limit or expiration date.

Are QR codes only available when online?

No, QR codes are not only available when online. QR codes still function even when offline. It depends on the type of QR code and the information it contains, whether or not it works without an internet connection. Static QR codes are used offline. The presence of a text QR code indicates it. However, it is essential to note that an internet connection is required to access the information stored within dynamic QR codes. URL QR codes are an example that redirects users to websites.

Are QR codes reusable?

Yes, QR codes are reusable. Static QR codes are created once and are not modified after creation. Static QR codes are scanned and reused as many times as needed. Dynamic QR codes are reused only if stored under an active subscription. The user changes the information contained within dynamic QR codes. The QR code redirects the user to the updated information if the information changes after scanning. However, the information is not reused, as the previous information stored within it no longer exists if it is within a dynamic QR code that has been modified or deleted.

QR codes are an innovative way to transmit information to other parties with just one scanning. Anyone creates a QR code using a QR Code Creator, and the codes are used for personal and business use. QR codes are becoming more widespread, with different types of QR codes that are increasingly updated. Specific security concerns and challenges arise despite the many benefits of using QR codes. However, these issues have not significantly reduced their use, and their popularity continues to grow daily. QR codes continue to increase and are the perfect tool for future sector applications.

author image

Content Manager

Ilaha Mammadova

As an experienced content manager, Ilaha specializes in crafting SEO-friendly content that blends creativity and strategy. With a passion for delivering high-quality, engaging content, Ilaha focuses on innovative ideas to help brands elevate their digital presence. Her dedication to excellence ensures that every piece ranks well and resonates with the target audience, making a lasting impact. In her free time, she enjoys singing a song and capturing moments through photography, adding an extra touch of creativity to everything she does.

Make your materials better

Add editable and trackable QR Codes on anything you want with full branding and customization features.