September 9, 2021
3 mins read

What are QR codes and how to create them

barcode cellphone close up coded
Photo by Pixabay on

QR codes, short for “quick response” codes (Quick Response), are black and white symbols usually square in shape. They are used to store information that people can scan with a smartphone to learn more about a product or visit a landing web page.

These encrypted squares may contain links, coupons, event details, and other information that users may want to take with them for later consultation. QR codes are, therefore, a diagram that directs you to a web address if you use the reader of your smartphone.

History of QR codes

It all started in Japan in the 60s of the last century. Many markets and supermarkets began to appear due to economic growth. Cashiers and cashiers complained of wrist problems because they had to enter the price manually.

Barcodes began to be used but soon their limitations became apparent. The biggest drawback is that it could only contain 20 alphanumeric characters. In addition, barcodes only use one address.

The companies contacted DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED (then a division of DENSO CORPORATION) which was developing barcode readers at the time to ask if it was possible to develop barcodes that could contain more information.

A DENSO WAVE development team embarked on the development of a new two-dimensional code, all out of a sincere desire to adapt to the needs of users.

The birth of 2D code

The person in charge of the development of the QR code was Masahiro Hara,and from the beginning of the project they were obsessed with the idea of packaging as much information as possible into their codes.

With barcodes, information is encoded in a single direction (one dimension). With 2D codes, on the other hand, information is encoded in two directions: horizontal and vertical. Out of a strong desire to develop easily readable code that is capable of containing a large amount of information, Hara set out to develop a new 2D code.

QR patents are registered with the patent offices of Japan and the United States as can be seen in are several patents among them are the patent  JP2938338,which is atwo-dimensional code and can be viewed on Google Patents.

How a QR code works

Basically, a QR code works in the same way as a barcode in the supermarket. It is an image scannable by a device capable of reading it such as the camera of a smartphone. Each QR code consists of a series of squares and black dots that represent certain information. When your smartphone scans this code, it translates that information into something that humans can easily understand.

Therefore, a QR code is an encoded data. The data in a QR code can be alphanumeric, numeric, binary, or kanji (kanji is a form of Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese writing system).

If you’ve ever scanned a QR code with your smartphone, chances are you’ve noticed that they can be scanned extremely fast (we’re talking in a second or two). This makes QR codes an extremely simple way to access stored information in an instant which, in turn, makes them a perfect solution for conversion-hungry marketers.

In a QR code type there are position detection patterns, a data area and a module, as seen in Fig 1.

qr code
Figura 1. Positions, data area and module, extracted from Source image

How to generate a QR code

On the internet there are many QR code generators. One of the ways is to use an R package called a qrcode. I will show how to generate a QR code. To create it you need  R.

Load library

The library that is used first is loaded into R.


In order to include the QR code in the header of the PDF report, first I will create a QR code and save as PNG file.

Create the QR code


This web page would have the following QR code generated by this procedure:

códigos QR
Figura 2. QR code of this website.

Another way to create a QR code is to use the page Choosing this page again would result in the result of Fig. 3.

qr code
Figura 3. Another QR target this website.

License to use QR codes

There is no fee to use a QR code. Therefore, the license for the use of the QR Code stipulated by JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) and iso is not necessary. The word “QR Code” is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED in Japan and other countries.

Therefore, to use the word “QR Code” in publications or websites, etc., it is necessary to indicate that the QR Code is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED. This trademark applies only to the word “QR Code” and not to the QR Code pattern (image).


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Avelino Dominguez

👨🏻‍🔬 Biologist 👨🏻‍🎓 Teacher 👨🏻‍💻 Technologist 📊 Statistician 🕸 #SEO #SocialNetwork #Web #Data ♟Chess 🐙 Galician

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