The history of QR code

historia kodu qr

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The history of QR code

While the Denso company is mostly associated by automotive enthusiasts, it's worth remembering that we owe this business from Honshu Island a handful of ingenious ideas that have revolutionized everyday life. When a modest team, led by Masahiro Hara, was pondering how to meet growing production needs in the first half of the 1990s, nobody suspected that their solution would become a symbol of the modern world.

Breaking the deadlock

Traditionally, necessity became the mother of invention. At the beginning of the last decade of the previous century, the one-dimensional barcodes used in Japan were no longer keeping up with the requirements of the evolving economy. Too "thin" notations began to slow down production. To convey full information about the goods, their transport, history, or proper storage, a single row of bars was no longer enough. Breaking this deadlock became a priority for many companies, including the Denso corporation, specialized in manufacturing automotive parts.

Masahiro Hara realized that the barcodes used at the time would not overcome certain limitations and their further development was pointless. It was time for reflection: what do we really want to create? The increasing miniaturization of products and the need to record an increasing number of data theoretically seemed incompatible. In addition, the globalization of trade demanded the expansion of recording capabilities based on different alphabets. It had to be faster and more efficient. A significant challenge was set before the expert from the Japanese company.

Change the world during lunch

The best ideas are born in the least expected moments. In this case, the creator's passion for strategy games became indispensable. As he once stated, the concept was born during lunch, while he was arranging black and white pawns on a board. He realized that they create a simple way of transmitting information. He began developing a new two-dimensional system. The image of a small code that is read instantly and can accommodate an unimaginably larger amount of data began to dawn in his head.

The path from idea to project was not strewn with roses. It turned out that scanners have a problem with correctly locating two-dimensional symbols and precise reading of the pattern is required. No one would take a code that slows down work, instead of speeding it up, seriously. However, a solution was found - simple and brilliant. In three corners of the mosaic, special points, the "foundations" determining the position of the code in space, were placed. 

New quality

The process of research, experiments, and implementation of the new project took the team over a year. The effort paid off - the quality leap was like a gateway to a better tomorrow. All the troubles were solved not only in Denso, but in many Japanese industries. The QR code could accommodate over 4000 characters and recorded kanji symbols, Cyrillic, or letters from other alphabets without any problem. The introduction of the new solution accelerated logistical processes several times. Soon the whole world began to eagerly use the Japanese idea. It paid off for everyone.

Today we cannot imagine a world without QR codes. However, thirty years ago, few daredevils would risk stating that a mosaic resembling a Go board would gain such popularity. It's worth remembering that a few years earlier another two-dimensional code was developed - based on DataMatrix technology. What determined that it was Masahiro Hara's concept that became more common in everyday life? The QR code turned out to be exceptionally resistant to damage and contamination. It has earned a reputation as a fast and reliable solution. It is also extremely universal in reading - a mobile phone camera is enough.

Present and future

Today, QR codes work great not only in the industry but also in ticket machines and marketing. Advertisers can reach the recipient with additional content without incurring increased costs. They are used to record location data, in cashless payments, as guides in museums, and libraries. Interestingly, the size of the code does not matter. There were marketing campaigns using patterns created by drones suspended above the city, or cut out on a gigantic field visible from an airplane window. The popular mosaic has also become an inspiration for artists. 

Despite all these interesting solutions, it is particularly worth emphasizing that this two-dimensional notation allows taking care of global health. It was used beneficially during the BSE epidemic to ensure the safety and quality of food products. Hara still believes in his idea and looking at the success it has achieved, it's no surprise. He points out that the technology can find a wide application in the medical industry, and also facilitate the work of services during disasters. The QR code has become an indispensable aid in dealing with the effects of Covid-19. Considering the infinite number of ideas for using the mosaic, it can be said that it still has many bright years ahead.


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