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What Are The Alternatives To QR Codes? - Feb 2017

There are many alternatives to QR Codes, Some more successful than others.

Smartphones are playing a big part in driving the popularity of QR Codes. The flexibility of smartphones means many QR Code alternatives can coexist without the need for expensive hardware. The user simply needs to install an app allowing them to use the standard of their choice. Most apps support multiple formats.

Not all of the alternative standards use a "Code". Some such as Blipper or Google Goggles allow the user to take a photo of an advert, landmark or DVD cover. From that image the app is then able to identify what was photographed (often by querying a central server) and pull up any data it has associated with it. There are some disadvantages to this approach, first of all you need to have an active data connection, and second of all there is one break point, and if that server was to go down or be decommissioned, solutions stop working.

Below are some links to the most common alternatives that exist. We are not including other types of QR Code here such as Micro QR Code or iQR Code.

MS Tag
MS Tag MaxiCode

Blipper This technology claims to instantaneously convert anything in the real world into an "interactive wow experience". Allows you to photograph real objects and have additional content pushed to you based on what you took the photo of.

Microsoft TagUses a grid of triangles to encode data but introduces colours which allow the tags to code more data in even smaller spaces. Microsoft discontinued these in August 2015 and they are now run by Scanbuy

Google GogglesVery versatile allowing you to take photos of anything and then pull up additional data related to that image. For example take a photo of a landmark to get additional information about its history. It even solves Suduko puzzles for you. For most use cases, you require an active data connection in order to use the scanner

MaxiCode2D barcode using circles rather than squares. A barcode can scan approx 93 characters and it is possible to place up to 8 in close proximity and chain them together in order to store more data.

Data MatrixAnother similar alternative, Can hold about half as much data as a QR Code.

Most of these different standards will contain much of the same features. Some are newer than others and designed for slightly different purposes. For the time being, QR Codes remain the most popular and their use is growing faster than any other.


You should try looking over our FAQs or read more on What A QR Code Is

You should also consider reading The Technical Stuff