QR codes (Quick Response Codes) is a technology from the 1900s. They were first invented by Japan in the mid-90s so that components in car production could be tracked. QR codes can store a massive amount of data compared to data standards, i.e., up to 2500 numeric characters than a barcode that can hold 43 characters. As per some reports, it has been suggested that Apple might be giving the format an upgrade with colors, dots, and circles instead of current blocks.
This QR Code technology has come up and can be very useful in times of coronavirus pandemic. Many restaurants, start-ups, and government facilities are making use of these codes to ensure better customer service and, at the same time, exercise norms of social distancing. Hence, the pandemic has brought a boost to the Barcode Readers Market as barcodes are being used to look up menus, order, and then pay by just pointing one’s smartphones at the black-like square. As QR Codes are successfully able to connect the digital world with the physical one and so they are increasingly being used by customers and retail outlets alike.
Pharmacies have also started to make use of these codes. In the United States, CVS (Consumer Value Store) offers touch-free payments by establishing a partnership with Venmo and Paypal at 8200 stores. The code is scanned during checkout, and customers have to simply open either of the paying apps, then click the scan button and pay for the products. The QR Code then pulls up the amount from customers’ accounts in the same way as any online transaction is done.
Several start-ups are also using QR Codes for retail storefronts. Omori (A Stockholm-based start-up) invented grid technology that enables retailers to have a digital screen displaying QR Codes and offers passers-by the ability to purchase any item they like right from the street once they look at a video or image of it on the screen.
Public Health agencies are also taking advantage of this technology to assist with contact-free tracing. In the UK, with the help of NHS, designated venues have the liability for displaying NHS QR Code posters. This brings the customer an alternative as they can quickly check in to the venue instead of providing their contact details. In a case, if any person tests positive for the virus, then all the visitors from that location are alerted by the app as per the data accumulated via QR Scans.
Although these are significant developments, privacy is still a concern for many when it comes to this technology. The QR Codes have been established without any proper legislation and might lead to severe interference with the information provided by the users. Hence, there needs to be appropriate rules and regulations that need to be enacted by respective governments so that such a situation does not arise in the future.
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