What Makes QR Codes Different? - Feb 2017
The first and most obvious thing that makes them different is that QR Codes are made up of many small squares rather than the lines you see in a traditional UPC barcode. The advantage of this is that whereas with a traditional barcode data is stored only horizontally (1D), a QR Code is able to store data both horizontally and vertically (2D). This greatly increases the amount of data the QR Code can store within a small surface area.
To put this into perspective, a 1D barcode is able to store a reference number around 20 Digits long, whereas a QR Code can store a 7089 Digit reference number or 4296 Characters of text. This enables the QR Code to store full contact cards or URLs as well as many other data types (more on data types in section 7).
Having the ability to store data in 2 Dimensions doesn't just mean you should cram more data in unnecessarily. Sometimes there is a need to store only a few digits of data. In this case, the QR Code allows you to store the same amount of data as a traditional barcode but in a much smaller physical space.
In this example, both a traditional 2D barcode and a QR Code are storing the same data clearly demonstrating the reduced surface area required with QR Codes.
Additional capacity in a QR Codes also allows for some other important features. These include the ability to scan a code in any rotation (upside down for example) and also allows a code to include error correction so that if damaged (to a certain extent) the data within can still be decoded and understood, this makes them more flexible and resilient.
Keep Reading: 4. How Would I Use A QR Code?
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