Wednesday 28 April 2010

Making my QR code more human

Ever since I was introduced to QR codes, they have been in the forefront of my thoughts, from an artistic angle.

QR codes are 2D codes that have the capability of storing data that can be retrieved, providing links and even ticketing and couponing solutions, as I learnt from Mirko kisser of Celloon. Indeed, they can be combined with a powerful online tracking system to convert a print product into a remarkable market analysis tool.

The problem is their sterility. Celloon have a solution of combining icons with the code, The Japanese design company Set has taken the QR codes and also made art out of them.

Simplistically, I wanted to understand if I could do the same.

I created my business card information as a QR code using a freely available QR code Generator at

The image of the QR code was then printed at about A4 size and I spent an enjoyable hour at the Television, idly doodling a more curvy tracing of the barcode elements, making sure that there were little separate islands too.

I scanned the black and white tracing into my PC and converted it into a vector trace using CorelDraw, allowing smoothing of lines.

It was now possible to colour the individual islands in a random pattern to achieve a much more user friendly QR code - see the slide show above or go to Picasa.

Playing with colours and contrasts showed that you just needed a suitable contrast from the background and not too great a difference between the colours in their contrast if viewed as a greyscale. corners of pixels could be rounded, especially if you created a QR code with some error correction, as is possible.

Most modern mobile phones (cell phones) with cameras can take apps that allow you to read QR codes - provided mine for a Nokia.

So if you are new to QR codes, have a play creating some and seeing how much you can bend the rules before the colouring or distortion becomes unreadable!

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