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Video: How-to Use QR Codes to Share Information in Android

By Joe Levi May 24, 2010, 1:30 pm

Remember back in the early days of PDAs? Almost every device had an IRDA port for “squirting” or “beaming” information to other devices. While that was really helpful if both the sender and the receiver had the same type of device, it was pretty frustrating when your Pocket PC couldn’t transfer information to your friend’s Palm (at least not consistently, and not without a 3rd party app).

That “problem” has pretty much gone away now that IRDA ports are mostly a thing of the past. Today we have Bluetooth, but that comes with its own complications and headaches.

What we have today on virtually every phone is a camera, and the ability to load 3rd party apps to extend the capabilities of our devices.

Specifically, with our phone, its camera, and a 3rd party barcode scanning app, we can “read” encoded information printed in a barcode, and import it into our phone (Android, iPhone, Windows Mobile, or Palm). These standardized barcodes have become the Rosetta Stone for cross-platform data exchanges — and because they’re printable, we can even read encoded data from a printed page, computer monitor, phone screen, billboard, business card, or TV screen. We can do this thanks to barcode formats such as “QR Code”.

A QR Code, or “Quick Response” code, is a popular type of two-dimensional barcode. 2D barcodes can hold more data in the same space as 1D barcodes because they encode data both horizontally as well as vertically. 1D barcodes (such as UPC) only encode data along the horizontal axis, in one-dimension.

According to Google, “QR Codes store up to 4,296 alphanumeric characters of arbitrary text. This text can be anything, for example URL, contact information, a telephone number, even a poem!”

So, how can we use QR codes on our phones? In this video I’ll show you have to use an Android phone and an app called “Barcode Scanner” by Zxing to read various types of QR-encoded data. Just because I’m showing you on my Android, don’t fell left out; you can get a similar barcode scanning app for your Windows Mobile or iPhone and have virtually the same experience! Take a look!

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