QR Codes: Unlock The Hidden Potential

Hey Friend,

Just wanted to let you know that I have relaunched my blog at a whole new site, with a whole new look! Check it out, re-bookmark the new site, and follow me over there. Lots of new posts to read, like this post, Seat Yourself with Seat Guru By TripAdvisor.

Hope to see you there!

Link to the new and improved Let’s Get Deals Today Home Page.

Link to QR Codes: Unlock The Hidden Potential‘s new and improved look.


Have you seen this image before? Have you wondered what it means? Do you have a smartphone? Then read on to unlock the “hidden potential” of QR Codes!

What is a QR Code?

A QR code is a super cool way for practically anyone to share information with other people. It is designed to squeeze lots of information into that little black and white square, just waiting for a scanner to reveal its secrets.

Piqued your interest? Want to know why you too might want to scan QR codes? Because you just don’t know what a QR code might unlock. Here’s six examples of where QR codes have been used to unlock both fun and savings.

  • Free Lunch Special: Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Start scanning restaurant QR codes and you might just receive a “Buy one get one free” coupon for your next meal. Woohoo! Restaurants are using QR codes to share with their customers special coupon offers, videos of special dishes being prepared, recipes, take-out menus, even interviews with the executive chef.
  • Free Stuff: Really! You might unlock a link to a freebie, and who doesn’t like free stuff? That’s what Mountain Dew and Taco Bell did in a recent joint promotion. QR codes on Taco Bell drink cups linked to a free music download. Wow! Scanning the QR code got you a song to go with your taco!
  • Informed Shopper: Cutting edge retailers like Starbucks are implementing QR codes to enhance their customers’ shopping experiences. Using the Starbucks Phone App with its own imbedded QR code reader, learn more about that bag of Starbucks java, including where the beans were grown and how to best prepare this particular brew.

  • Museums Made More Interesting: While exploring your local museum, you see these black and white squares at many of the exhibits and recognize them as QR codes. Scan away to enlightenment! Savvy museums like The Cleveland Museum of Art are embracing QR codes to enhance their visitors’ museum experience. These QR codes can direct visitors to online or audio tours, fun facts or additional information about that exhibit.
  • Zoo Fun: QR codes have gone wild! Discover wild stuff at zoos like The Santa Barbara Zoo, where QR codes enable you to “interact” even more with the animals. Scanning a QR code sign might link the guest to behind the scenes videos of animals being fed, playing, or interacting with a zoo handler. Try it out! Scan this QR code and it will link you to the YouTube video, A Day at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

  • Personalized Gift Tags: JCPenny’s “Who’s Your Santa” program this past Christmas took pre-recorded messages to a whole new level. Gift purchases came with a QR coded gift tag that enabled you to record a personal message. Check it out with this YouTube video!

What will QR codes do next, virtual grocery store shopping? Imagine yourself accessing your grocery store’s virtual grocery shelves while relaxing at home. Using your QR code scanner, you scan the items you want and each item scanned is added to your grocery basket. Once finished, you check out online, and tomorrow, your groceries are ready for pick up. Or perhaps delivered right to your door! Sounds like a dream right? Well, this isn’t as futuristic as it sounds! South Koreans are already doing this at global supermarket giant TESCO.

Now for some technical details to get you started on your own QR code fun:

How do you “read” a QR code? You will need three essential items:

  • A device with a camera such as a smartphone or iPad2.
  • A bar code scanner app that can read QR codes.
  • An internet connection.

Once you have a bar code scanner installed on your internet-accessible device, you are good to go! Simply open up the scanner app, point the camera at the QR code, and scan away. It really is that easy to unlock a QR code’s secrets. Check out the JCPenny YouTube video for demonstration of how to scan a QR code.

Where do you get a QR code reader? There’s an App Store for that! Check out your device’s Apps Store where you will find a wide selection of QR code readers for both Apple and Android camera enabled devices. Here are a few of the more popular QR code reader apps to choose from:

Apple QR/Bar Code Scanner Apps:

Android QR/Bar Code Scanner Apps:

Even better: these apps are FREE! You shouldn’t need to spend anything to get a quality QR code reader. If you have an iPhone, you already have a QR code reader via the Google search app that comes with the phone.

Not only are QR codes fun, they can also unlock savings to the intrepid QR code scanner. That would be you! So go on now, get in the habit of scanning those codes! Enlighten yourself, add fun to your day, and perhaps even find yourself a great coupon savings. You just never know what a QR code scan will unlock.

Are you ready to unlock your own QR code secrets?

Are you already a QR code scanner? What’s your favorite QR link you’ve scanned? Do you have a favorite QR Code Reader App? Let us know in the Comments Section below.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. CarolynNicanderMohr (@carpathia16)
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 17:27:42

    I’m a big fan of QR codes! I really think they will be the wave of the future. Loved your article. I had no idea there was a QR code scanner in my Starbucks app!


    • carolbiederman
      Jan 24, 2012 @ 19:55:19

      I got into QR codes thanks to a great friend! Several weeks ago I linked to a “buy one get one free” deal at my favorite lunch restaurant. Just this morning, I used my Starbucks QR reader to learn more about their newest java brew. I’ve used museum ones too! They are great for unlocking additional exhibit details.


  2. cho cho
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 10:28:00

    Wow. This sounds great! Thanks.

    Where would you find a QR code for a local restaurant? Are QR codes mostly found on their products (you mentioned coffee cups & at the museum)?

    If you scan a QR code, does it give any information about you to the company whose code you scanned?


    • carolbiederman
      Jan 27, 2012 @ 06:13:44

      Hi Cho Cho. I have found them on flyers that sit on the restaurant tables, the menus and on posters on the wall. I find QR codes in magazines: this week one linked to a 20% off coupon and another one, a Marines advertisement, linked me to recruitment information. My boys are now “hunting down” QR codes. Yesterday we found one on a pizza box that linked to information about that product. I’ve even scanned QR codes off the computer! With regards to your information going to the company when you scan, I think only if you provide it through the link that you are sent to after the scan. My “free lunch” offer was sent to me only after I provided my email. I am not aware of my information passing through the scanned QR code to the company simply by scanning. Hope this helps!


  3. rockbottomtshirts
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 16:19:18

    QR codes are great. But you’re right, I’ve never thought of them as a way to save money until reading your post.

    And by the way, loved the example that you gave of what may be yet to come as far as QR codes go.

    Thanks for another enlightening post!


    • carolbiederman
      Jan 27, 2012 @ 06:21:40

      Hi Rockbottomtshirts, Great to hear from you. And yes, I too was surprised as to the breadth of where QR codes are popping up. I’ve accessed additional information in museums, got extra coupons, and more. I love the grocery store concept too! The potential of QR codes is ever expanding. You should make one for your site! It’s quite easy to do. I was surprised at how easy it is to create your own link. It took me about 1 minute to create a LetsGetDealsToday QR code!


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