Imagine you could take your mobile phone, hold it up to an image, and magically be transported to any information you wished. It would be like having a genie of the lamp without the subservient insolence.

Suppose you see a movie poster and wonder if the movie is worth seeing. Zap! You're watching the movie's trailer. You look at a menu in a restaurant's front window and wonder if the food is as good as it looks. Zap! You're reading reviews from people who tell you first hand how they liked the restaurant.

Suppose you're reading a newspaper article and would like to know more about the article's subject. Zap! You're reading a different article, or seeing a news video, or hearing a radio interview about the same subject. Imagine you're at a subway stop and wondering when the next train will come. Zap! You're looking at the schedule and also finding out if the train's on time.

If you lived in Japan, you wouldn't have to imagine or suppose. It's been happening for years. Same in South Korea. Now it's happening in Europe, and just beginning in the U.S. and Canada.

How does this magic happen? With something called a QR (Quick Response) Code. This is a QR Code:

I became interested in QR codes a couple of years ago. At the time, I became convinced that QR codes would become immensely popular in the United States. Some time ago I started putting QR codes on my business cards, so that someone merely had to scan the code and all of my contact information would immediately be entered into their mobile phone's address book.

Then, in the spring of 2010, I conducted a research project with QR codes where I live—in California's Napa Valley. The purpose of my research project was to determine—and increase—awareness and use of QR codes in the Napa Valley. In the early stages of the project, as I was establishing sites where QR codes could be displayed, I discovered that almost no one had ever seen them before. When I explained what QR codes were, some people immediately started seeing possibilities and began to come up with ideas for their particular business that went beyond those I had suggested. However, others said, upon hearing about QR codes and seeing a demonstration, “That's interesting. But how can we use them in our business? Can we make money with them?”

Considering that we were in the midst of an economic depression, it was a legitimate question. I started thinking of specific ideas I could give them on how they could be used. I decided to go to Amazon, pick a book on QR codes that I could probably recommend after reading, and order it.

There wasn't one. Not only was there not a good book, there wasn't any book.

There is now.

Enjoy. I hope you find it useful.

...oh, and one other thing. The world of QR codes is so dynamic that I'm sure you've got ideas on how this book could be improved and expanded. If so, email me at I'd like to hear your ideas.

Mick Winter

QR Code is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED