What Is A Micro QR Code? - Feb 2017
Micro QR codes were designed by Denso Wave to accommodate situation where a small amount of data needs to be stored but the available space to place a barcode or traditional QR Code is extremely limited. Places you may see them would be on printed circuit boards or on other electrical components.
Just looking at a Micro QR Code with your naked eye, you will notice 2 things when compared to a traditional barcode.
- Positioning Patterns - Traditional QR Codes have multiple positioning patterns around the code to speed up scanning and allow codes to be quickly oriented by the scanner, a Micro QR Code on the other hand only has 1 positioning pattern. For small amounts of data this saves a good amount of the available surface to encode data rather than positioning information.
- Margin - Traditional QR Codes required a 4 module wide border is surrounding them for a scanner to be able to reliably read them in multiple scenarios, this is reduced to 2 modules wide for Micro QR Codes saving more of the available surface area for encoding data.
Here is a comparison of a Micro QR Code and a QR Code, both with the same data encoded. They are encoded as plain text with the word “QR Code” within. As you can see the physical size of the Micro QR Code is smaller although it stores the same amount of data.
In addition to less positioning patterns and smaller margins, the Micro QR Code is more efficient at encoding data.
Just like with QR Codes, there are multiple versions of Micro QR Code, version 1 to 4. The higher the version the more modules it contains and therefore the more data it can store. A version 1 Micro QR code can store more data than a version 1 QR Code.
Micro QR Codes do also still support error correction, although rather than 4 levels of error correction there are only 3. Not all levels of error correction are available for all versions of Micro QR Code.
- Version 1 - No Error Correction
- Version 2 - Low & Medium
- Version 3 - Low & Medium
- Version 4 - Low, Medium & Quality
Given the expected size of a Version 1 Micro QR Code, the chances are any damage to the code, even if tiny, would destroy a majority of the data within the code to a point where it couldn't be recovered, therefore error correction at this version serves only to consumer some of the limited space available for storing data.
In 2004 Micro QR Codes were standardised and as with standard QR Codes, when they made them publically available, Denso Wave waived their rights to the patent.
If you're new to QR Codes and want to learn a little more, then take the time to read What's A QR Code
Or scan through our FAQs
If you want something a little more technical, try The Technical Stuff