QR Code Scanner

QR Codes can dramatically change the way in which your company operates in the modern world, elevating your relationship with customers. Let’s dive into the world of QR Codes so you can discover how you can best implement this technology for your business to increase customer engagement and ROI. 

How Does a QR Code Work?

“QR Code” stands for quick-response code. A type of two-dimensional matrix barcode designed for on-the-fly viewing of mobile device content, these scannable codes have only truly gained widespread adoption in recent years. However, the QR Code’s origins stretch well back into the 1990s.

Invented in 1994 by Denso Wave, the QR Code was their preferred method of labeling automobile parts with a machine-readable optical image. It existed then as it does today -  a field of black squares arranged on a grid against a square white background, designed to be read by a camera or imaging device and processed using Reed-Solomon error correction, a group of error-correcting codes first introduced in 1960. When scanned, Deno Wave’s QR Codes displayed information directly linked to an automobile item, achieved by extracting data from vertical and horizontal patterns within the QR Code’s image. 

Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before the potential for QR Codes was understood outside of the automobile industry. Compared to run-of-the-mill UPC barcodes, QR Codes have greater capacity and exceedingly fast readability, and everything from text to URLs to contact information can be encoded. However, although a ton of potential use cases were quickly identified — including product tracking, time tracking, document management, and marketing initiatives — adoption outside of the automobile industry was slow for the greater part of two decades.

What Is a QR Code Scanner and Why Did QR Code Adoption Initially Stall?

A QR Code scanner is simply a tool to scan QR Codes. Today, that typically means any mobile device with camera hardware, including phones and tablets. Early consumer mobile devices typically did not natively feature QR reader capability; however, the first mobile phones with built-in QR readers were released in Japan in 2002. This was the first hurdle to the widespread adoption and use of QR Codes — once users discovered, “oh, I can simply scan a QR Code on my phone,” companies increasingly began to create the codes.

Still, wider acceptance by the public was not swift, even following 2002. Many phones in use still did not possess QR reader capability out of the box or required a special app distributed through Apple’s App Store or Google Play. The greater issue, however, was reliability. Consumers frequently encountered poorly designed QR Code content that wasn’t interesting or informative; worse, QR Codes often led to broken links. This created distrust within the public - consumers didn’t want to have their time wasted with broken links, and some began to question how safe these nondescript links were to follow.

QR Codes and COVID

Gradually, companies began to make savvier use of QR Codes by creating more compelling consumer content, and the issue with broken links was remedied. But it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that the adoption of QR Codes skyrocketed.

In an intriguing twist, the question of safety — once held against widespread QR Code adoption — would become the issue that catapulted its adoption with the public in 2020. The public, reeling from the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and living in fear of virus transmission, began to avoid physical contact. This created a high demand for contactless payment options, particularly when ordering and paying for food at restaurants. The industry responded with digital menus with scannable QR Codes, enabling food orders with as little physical human interaction as possible. Additionally, governments worldwide turned to QR Codes for contact tracing. Pandemic fears finally enabled QR Codes to become embedded in everyday public life.

Onward and Upward: the Continued Adoption of QR Codes in Post-pandemic Society

Following the pandemic, QR Code usage has only gathered further steam as use cases have blossomed beyond dining and contact tracing to include event ticketing and product information collection.

The use cases for QR Codes in the 2020s are no longer niche. Have a product issue? Consumers can access troubleshooting guides and other product information with a quick scan. Don’t want to be hassled by product registration but desire the benefits? A QR Code can now make the process painless. Trying to upsell your customer on a new feature or package? A QR Code makes promotional material easier to access and deliver than ever, seamlessly whisking the consumer away to informational landing pages and swiftly enabling text message opt-ins. Thanks to QR Codes, it’s all happening.

How to Scan a QR Code

Fortunately for consumers, it couldn’t be simpler to scan QR Codes and consume content. Modern mobile devices, including phones and tablets regardless of operating system, have the ability to act as QR Code scanners out of the box — and the process is pretty simple.

How to Scan a QR Code on Android?

  1. Open the built-in camera app on your Android tablet or phone.

  2. Ensure you are in a well-lit area, then point the camera directly at the QR Code.

  3. Tap your phone screen to focus the camera on the QR Code if auto-focus does not initiate.

  4. Once the camera focuses, a banner will appear on your Android’s screen. Tap this banner to access the QR Code’s content.

How to Scan QR Code on iPhone?

  1. Open the camera app. This app is accessible from the lock screen, home screen, or the control center.

  2. Select the rear-facing camera. Position your iPhone so that the QR Code is centered on the screen’s viewfinder. Ensure the camera is properly focused on the QR Code; tap the screen to manually focus, if necessary.

  3. Tap the notification that appears once the phone’s camera recognizes the QR Code. 

Although today's phones and tablets can read QR Codes out of the box using only the native camera hardware (Android 8 and above, iOS 11 and above), there is a QR Code scanner app available from both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.

Google Lens - a Google QR Scanner

Google has its own Google QR Code scanner that users can download. Google Lens offers QR Code scanning functionality in addition to enabling users to auto-detect, identify, and translate images and text. Some of the functionality of the Google Lens QR code scanner includes:

  • Plant and animal identification

  • Language translation

  • Step-by-step homework help

However, Google Lens is not without its issues. In 2022, both Google Lens and the built-in camera on Google’s line of Pixel phones misread QR code links, although a patch was later issued.

How Do You Create a QR Code?

QR Codes are machine-readable barcode labels designed with an assortment of black and white squares. Typically, a QR Code online contains embedded URLs, although any number of items may be stored in a QR Code, including phone numbers, email addresses, geolocation, and plain text.

What Is a QR Code Generator?
QR code generator is a tool leveraged by a manufacturer, company, or individual to generate different types of QR Codes. Common applications include URLs that lead to a website, landing pages, or other types of digital experiences.

How to Make a QR Code for a Link?

QR Codes can be made in the traditional manner (random black squares on a white grid) or can be customized to include a company’s logo for a fun marketing twist. Either way, creation is simple. Once a brand has a QR Code generator identified and selected, it’s often as simple:

  1. Navigating to the QR Code generator’s URL or downloading the software.

  2. Entering the URL (or other information) to be embedded.

  3. Customize your QR Code’s frame, shape, and color if the platform has that option and fits into your brand’s campaign goals.

  4. Downloading the created QR Code and distributing it to users.

No matter how one chooses to design their QR Code or which generator is used, businesses can derive many benefits from QR Code adoption, including but not limited to:

  • Providing customers with convenient, easy-to-retrieve information and promotional benefits

  • Simple, cost-effective implementation

  • Enhanced mobile friendliness

  • Trackable metrics

FAQs About QR Code Scanners

Need a crash course on QR Code functionality? Take a look at this rapid-fire Q&A session. 

Can You Scan a QR Code from a Screenshot Online?
Yes, you may scan a QR Code from an online screenshot.

Does My Camera Have a QR Scanner?
Most modern devices have cameras with built-in QR scanners. If you’re using an iPhone or iPad (iOS 11 or later) or an Android phone or tablet (Android 8 or later) with camera hardware, you’re good to go.

How to Scan a QR Code in Camera?
It couldn’t be easier to scan a QR Code with your camera. Simply ensure you’re in a properly lit environment, center the QR Code on your camera’s viewfinder, and focus on the code to complete a scan.

Do All Phone Cameras Scan QR Codes?

All modern phone cameras running iOS 11 or later or Android 8 or later feature QR Code scanning functionality.

Free QR Code Generators and Scanners

Concerned about the bottom line? Worried that the cost of QR Code generators will be too prohibitive for your company?

Don’t be - let’s explore why.

Can You Generate QR Codes for Free?

QR Code generators are inexpensive — and yes, there are even a number of free options for you to enjoy. The following are several free options for you to test out:

  • Beaconstac

  • QR Code Generator

  • QR Stuff

  • The QR Code generator

  • Shopify

  • GoQR

  • QR Code Monkey

  • Scanova 

Can I Scan a QR Code for Free?

Fortunately for you and any of your prospective customers, QR Codes can be scanned for free, regardless of how they were generated.

Challenges With Free QR Code Generators

Unfortunately, there are risks with free QR Code generators.

While the QR Code created itself is likely to be just fine, there are inherent security risks with free QR Code generators. When using such a generator, you’re relying on a third party or a series of third parties to redirect users to the information, images, music, or videos you uploaded. Your customers must trust not only you but any entities you partner with, and the reliance on unknown third parties can put you in a difficult spot.


Free QR Code generators can have their downsides. 

The lack of key analytics is a major downfall of using a free QR Code generator. Outside of any safety considerations, it should be noted that many free QR Code generators don’t include the key analytics your company needs and deserves. This may hinder your company’s ability to track key metrics like pageviews, sessions, session length, and more from your digital experiences. Tracking key analytics is crucial for your business in order to make informed decisions about what iterations need to be made in order to keep customer engagement levels high. 

Do QR Codes Expire?

Yes, QR Codes can expire. This is unfortunate, as it is important that you manage QR Codes long-term in order to ensure your users are never dealing with an inconvenient, broken link. Recall that this was one of the primary issues limiting the adoption of QR codes prior to 2020. In order for your customers to continue engaging with the content accessible behind a QR Code, you need to ensure your business has a long-term QR Code strategy that ensures content is regularly updated and monitored for customers. Otherwise, your business risks customers turning to the competition. 

Get Started with Lumavate

Lumavate is a QR Code generator purpose-built for manufacturers. Our platform isn’t just a solution that helps manufacturers create QR Codes, we’re so much more than that. 

Lumavate is a Product Experience Management (PXM) Platform that has Product Information Management (PIM)Digital Asset Management (DAM), and Digital Experience Platform (DXP) capabilities. By using the Lumavate Platform, manufacturers can centralize product data, manage digital assets, and create engaging digital product experiences for their customers all in one platform. Plus, they can generate QR Codes tied to their digital product experiences.

Schedule your demo today to see our PXM platform and QR Code-generating abilities in action. 

See Lumavate in Action

Meet with one of our experts to see how easy it is to centralize your product data, manage digital assets, and create digital product experiences. Trust us…you’re going to be wowed.