It’s a two-dimensional code that carries information such as text, URLs or other data. The codes must be read by a special Quick Response (QR) reader, which are now widely available on smartphones.

This one is printed on the back of my business cards and takes the user directly to this site. Sort of a print-based hyperlink. You may have seen them as they have begun to show up in print ads – scan the code and it takes you to a website for a product, a video or for further information. This has been implemented in various ways in advertising, as I described in this post. They are a bit like traditional barcodes, but are scanned very quickly by the reader and can hold more data.

They can carry data other than URLs – any sort of information can be encoded and there are many QR code generators available online at no cost. At BarCamp Memphis this past November, we had a QR scavenger hunt – codes were posted on the wall with words embedded – participants turned in a list of the words to win a prize (the winner of which was none other than bgs).

If you haven’t noticed them already, you’ll be seeing them soon, and they’ll be used in some interesting ways in the near future. They are already in common use in Japan and are just now beginning to make their way to the U.S.

QR code readers for iPhoneIf you have a smartphone, search your app store for QR code reader and you’ll probably find a variety. Here are the ones I’ve used on the iPhone:

You really only need one, I just like to try out iPhone apps.

Why am I so geeked up about QR codes? Here’s a clue. More in the coming days/weeks.

Have you seen them in the wild? Have you scanned one?