Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Kangaderoo QR Code Philosophy

Custom QR Codes made by me (Kangaderoo) are very recognizable due to the used technique.

A QR Code can be compared with any kind of memory, from USB stick to just a piece of paper.

Memory or storage has a certain amount of capacity, i.e. the amount of lines that can be written op paper before it is 'full'.

With QR Codes there is the possibility to select different sizes, where a larger size can usually store a larger message. Combining the right QR Code size, message and image, can result in a QR Code as seen on the left.

When integrating a picture into a QR Code, I make use of the space that is not used by the message to draw the image. When using the same size for the image pixels as the elements in the QR Code, the light and dark parts of the image occupy a valid QR Code 'information' location. Thus makes the image part of the QR Code message in stead of a disturbance of the QR Code message.

The result is a error free, fast scanning QR Code. If you require such a code, don't hesitate to visit to see more examples of what is possible with QR Codes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

QR Code Tracking

Great idea to have a nice looking QR Code to enhance you product marketing. But now, how to measure the added success of your campaign by adding this QR Code?
There are several options to check if the QR Code is actually adding value.

The first option is to have the link in the QR Code going to a specific address on your website. This first landingpage could be the actual target, but better yet, it could just be a forwarding page.
A forwarding page should then directly redirect the traffic to the actual landing-page linked to the campaign.
The benefit of using a forwarding page is that all the traffic to this page is generated only by the QR Code, so it makes tracking easier, and in the future the traffic can easily be redirected to a different landing page.

The second option is to make use of the URL shortener like "" , "" or one of the many others. Like the example QR Code in this article. The QR Code itself links to my twitter account, using the a URL shortener gives me the possibility to use the analysis tools of google for monitoring the usage. the second benefit of using shorteners is the actual shortener feature. A short URL placed in the QR Code requires less message space, this spare room is used  to add a graphic and still keep the QR Code error-free. So even a deep link into your website can be access by a short code.

A third option is to outsource this statistical analysis to a third party company (since I don't offer this service yet :-) ). For a small fee they will probably use a combination of option one and two to monitor the world wide usage of the QR Code and redirect the traffic to your desired landing page. Most of the time also offer customization of the QR Code itself.

If you require a fast scanning, error free QR Code for your product or company with or without the desired tracking options, don't hesitate to visit to see more examples of what is possible with QR Codes.

Monday, February 25, 2013

QR Code graphical Re-use

In order to promote a product adding a Custom QR Code is a nice way to integrate the usage of QR Codes into your product's campaign.

And when your campaign does not need to promote a single product but a product range?

Reuse the graphical additions in the QR Code for all your products!

At first glance the QR Code seem to be equal, since for the human eye the bottle and the word beer stand out. A closer look at the remainder of the QR Code shows that the black and white elements are arranged differently for both QR Codes.

This way a complete product range can have a unique code for each single product, while maintaining the same look for the product range.

If you require a fast scanning, error free QR Code for your product or multiple QR Codes for a product line, containing a graphic of your choice, don't hesitate to visit to see more examples of what is possible with QR Codes.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

QR Code Usage

QR Codes seem to have a bad reputation, besides being ugly they don't seem to meet the expectations when implemented. So what are the expectations? When a QR Code is used your:
  • trafic to the website should increase exponentially?
  • revenue should increase exponentially?
  • your company/product is suddenly more modern?
QR Codes are a tool, and when a tool is not used correctly, or a wrong tool is used for a certain job, you end up with more damage than good. And as the tool should never be more important that the goal.

A good example I saw a couple of years ago, when for a project a piece of software needed to be developed. In order to make clean software, tools needed to be implemented in the development environment to monitor the code during creation. During progress meetings the implementation of the developent tools got more attention than the actual progress of the software project??

So how should QR Codes be used? It depends on the goal that you set. I had a good discussion with my client when I developed the following code.

The QR Code should contain a "V CARD", making it possible to have all his company an personal information being stored in the phones contacts. While it is possible to put all the required information into a single QR Code, due to the amount of data it will end up being a very large QR code. And if a large QR Code needs to be printed on small item like a business card, the resolution of the mobile phones camera needs to be taken into account.
Not to mention that some mobile QR Code reader applications don't know how to handle "V CARD" information.

The solution was to store and host  the "V CARD" on  the company's website. Now the QR Code could be a link to this information.

The second item we discussed was the image that should be placed in the QR Code. Since the QR Code needed to be placed on a business card, his arguments were that the companies logo didn't have to be integrated in the picture. The logo, in full color was already printed on the business card.
I consider that a good thinking, the QR Code must bring added value to the business card, placing a company's logo in the QR Code would not add anything. That's how we ended up using a profile picture.
Suddenly there is also a picture accompanying the name mentioned on the business card. And with the text "scan this code for full contact details" the intention of the QR Code was also made clear.
The tool and the job in perfect harmony.

If you have defined how you want to wield your QR Code tool, and you require your own error free fast scanning QR Code, containing the correct graphic, don't hesitate to visit to see more examples of what is possible with QR Codes.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Sometimes I get a question if QR Code technology is suited for a certain application. "Can it hold a certain amount of data?", "Does it only have to link to a webpage?"
While this line of questions will probably result in a satisfactory answer, there could be a simpler way to assess if QR Code technology can to be used wherever it needs to be used, or even if there is a better alternative.

Denso Wave, the inventors of the QR Code probably used an other line of questioning to create the QR Code.
A line of questioning that looked at the requirements that this new to be developed technology should hold.
Questions like: "We need a flexible printable storage method for our tag's", "We need error correction in the tags, since they can be damaged".

Imagine... Imagine if we would constantly look at existing technology, and would work with the limitation not trying to find the boundaries of the rules, and then bend or break these boundries. That would kill innovation and progress.

Just imagine what you want to do with QR-Codes, send me your requirements or visit to see more examples of what is possible with QR Codes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

(in)visible QR and Scan Codes

I received a twitter message with the tweet "USD professor develops invisible QR codes", the article's can be found here. Reading the tweet and the article the first thought in my mind is why? Why make invisible QR Codes? A quick google scan on the key words "invisible qr code" gives me about 2.6 million results. It seems like the consensus is that QR Codes are ugly. Beauty seems to be in the eye of the beholder.

I just wonder, what is one of the biggest pluses of a QR Code? It is recognizable! I would guess that anyone with a smartphone would know what to do if they see a QR Code. But if I cannot see the invisible code what would make me take my phone out and scan at the right location?
You'd have to accompany the invisible QR Code with some kind of scan here indicator. An indicator pointing to.... still something I cannot see?

The question I still can't answer is "What would compel me to scan a invisible code?"
If anyone has the answer to this question, scan the code below and share your thoughts.

Is there a market for invisible QR Code's? I guess there could be. Marking products invisible against shoplifting or marking products for traceability in case of warranty could be useful. With only a limited group of people knowing where to scan; the product itself does not need a permanent visible mark.

But when using QR Codes as a marketing tool, it should be visible, calling attention to be scanned, giving a clear reason why it should be scanned. In this case visibility is key! There are several way's to enhance the QR Code visibility.

The visibility and the giving the reason why to scan the code can also be combined in a single QR Code.

If this code was part of a commercial campaign, and I was interested in the offer of the campaign, I'd guess I would scan the code and expect by doing so a text message would be send.

If you require your own error free fast scanning visible QR code, containing your own graphic, don't hesitate to visit to see more examples of what is possible with QR Codes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Color in QR Code

Custom QR Code: Campfire

Color in QR Codes

Using colors in QR Codes just as in the example on the left, does make the image jump out the QR Code.

What are the do's and the don't when coloring your QR code. Readability of QR Codes heavily depend on a couple of items. Mostly the focus is on the error correction. Since the error correction in QR Codes is using the Reed-Solomon forward error correction algorithm, a lot or element (the smallest used size of a information bit) can be corrected when purposely altered or damaged.
But error correction is not the only item in QR Code scan-ability. Resolution is the other big factor in making codes readable. This is probably the biggest reason black and white is used the basic QR Code layout.

This does not mean colors should not be used; the impact of using colors and the limitations need to be known. Using the basic colors that are also used for webpages, the famous RGB (red, green, blue) where the value of the individual colors can range between 0 and 255 we have 256*256*256 = 16777216 or the famous 16 million colors at our disposal.

What does (or should) a QR Reader do with those colors. Again there is a formula that calculates a single gray scale value from a RGB value.
Gray value = 0.299*Red-value + 0.587*Green-value + 0.114*Blue-value
The gray value will be a number between 0 and 255. (0 being black and 255 being white)

Applying this formula on the QR Code graphic as shown above will result in the picture on the right.

The next step in decoding the QR Code is to choose a threshold, and convert the image to pure black and white. According the the QR standard the threshold should be average value of the colors.
A regularly made QR should have a black/white ratio of 1:1. With a scale going from 0 to 255 the threshold will be set to 127.
If we look back to the formula used to determine the gray value we can expect certain colors to have a gray value result that is spot on the threshold. Usage of colors that are in close proximity of the threshold should be avoided.
When the black/white ratio is not equal to 1:1 this should shift the threshold. From experience I know that not all QR Code reader apps perform this threshold shift, and will use the 127 value.

Applying the threshold to the gray QR Code graphic results in the image on the left.
This QR Code shows the graphic as a QR Code Reader app will need to process the code.

So should colors and or gray scales be used in QR Codes? Yes definitely! It is the only way to make your QR Codes unique.

Just follow the steps as have been made in this article, convert the QR Code all the way to the black and white Code as a reader would process it and check if this code still is readable by QR Reader Apps.

If you require your own error free fast scanning custom QR code, containing your own graphic, don't hesitate to visit to see more examples of what is possible with QR Codes.

Gerko de Roo

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Will NFC kill QR Code?

QR Codes vs. NFC.

QR (Quick Response) Codes are hot. They appear on most of the printed material around us. But is QR dead? Is NFC (Near Field Communications) going to kill the QR popularity?It seems to be the thought of many.

Then again, the way the technology works, or is intended to work is so different that they could also work along side. Did whats-app kill SMS? Did mobile phones kill the land lines? Did internet kill newspapers? the answer to this is both yes and no. In cases were some activity that was only covered by the old technology this is transferred to the technology that is better suited for the proposed job.

This is my thought also for QR Codes and NFC. There were NFC can contain a lot more of information, the proximity to the information carrier is also needed. Where as a QR Code can be re sized and printed on roughly any surface to be accessible from greater distances. NFC technology works as a closed circuit while transferring data, only one transmitter/receiver pair per communication burst. Ok, the burst of data is short, making the next communication cycle available in a short time, where a QR code can be viewed by many camera's at the same time.

QR Codes can be branded, at the moment there a a lot of companies, my own included, that work a lot on QR Code enhancement. By making alterations, additions and other magic a QR Code can be transformed from a simple back and white squire to eye candy.
A NFC Tag is a piece of silicon with an antenna in a package, and on this package also almost anything can be printed to make it eye candy.

If NFC had the potential to kill any kind of bar-code it would have been in use at grocery stores years ago.
What is blocking is the cost. A once made QR code, or bar code printed on a leaflet or any kind of promotional material is just ink, where a NFC chip will cost a couple of cents per TAG.

The future will give the marketeers more and more technology to choose from. For each application a certain technology, existing or yet to be invented will be the right choice. It will be their work to know these technologies and choose the best for the campaign that they are planning.

I expect the QR code to be around for a while, and if you need one right now.... pay me a visit at:
to find out if the technology I use to enhance the QR Codes is the best choice for your current requirements.

Gerko de Roo