It is amazing how a simple pattern of little black squares can open a whole new world of possibility. From restaurant ordering and mobile payments, to password generators and Pokémon Go, Quick Response codes – better known as QR codes – have revolutionised the way we deliver and track products, and information.
Since the COVID pandemic, QR codes have played a key role managing people and security too. The distinctive squares can be found everywhere as Governments and businesses tap into our handy obsession with mobile phones to manage virus exposure and for contract tracing worldwide.
As any change manager knows, it is often much easier to get people on board with new ideas if they can use tools that are comfortable and familiar, like mobile phones and QR codes.
That’s why any site access or complete integrated people management system should include features that are instantly recognisable and simple to use.
Fries and a shake with that?
For frontend users, like staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors, QR codes can be used for site access, information retrieval and/or personal identification.
INX’s Sitepass platform, for example, uses QR codes through a point and shoot process, as simple as using your phone to scan and order fries and a “shake at Maccas”. All individuals are issued with a Sitepass ID, either as a downloadable card or as a mobile application, and they scan the QR code to view vital information and to access each site.
This information then feeds into the Sitepass backend to track the flow of people through busy workplaces, such as construction and mine sites.
When it comes to COVID reporting, or managing a viral outbreak, Sitepass provides complete transparency over risk, safety and compliance with all the information you need in one easily accessible, real-time system that can be accessed as and when needed.
That makes guesswork history.
Or something from the supermarket?
Talking of history, QR codes were one of the fascinating inventions to come out of tech-savvy Japan post WW2. They began with basic barcodes, which were developed in response to an explosive growth in supermarket shopping. Many checkout staff experienced wrist pain from having to manually key product prices into clunky cash registers so the scannable barcode label was born.
In the 1990s, car manufacturers were on an efficiency drive and began tracking parts as they moved through the factory. They found the humble barcode, which could only store 20 characters of data, was limiting and they needed up to 10 barcodes on every component.
That was until Masahiro Hara, an engineer at Toyota’s Denso Company, started thinking outside the square and the QR code was born. He designed a pattern that combined four standardised encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary and kanji) to create a label that was quick to read and able to store a whole lot more data.
QR scanning was released as standard in iPhone cameras in 2017, and Android devices were also equipped with native readers, as the QR code become the norm for automatically managing everything, from mandatory check-ins, to virtual stores, entertainment and transport ticketing, product and loyalty marketing, document and time tracking.
Enhanced through augmented reality?
Today, the use of QR codes is becoming more secure, more sophisticated and more entrenched as people find more imaginative and powerful ways to use the technology.
In June this year (2022), Australia will release its first standards for QR-code contactless payments paving the way for eftpos, BPAY and the New Payments Platform to merge as Australian Payments Plus (AP+).
Globally, QR codes have morphed beyond the technology of choice for touchless COVID services and check-in systems and have evolved into digital ‘vaccine passports’.
Organisations, like security agencies, are using them to manage personal information and to track counterfeit brands. Individuals are using them to add extra information to resumes and social media profiles.
Advanced technology is building on the versatile QR code which is being used in some augmented reality systems to determine the positions of objects in 3D space.
Where QR codes will take people management systems is yet to be realised and INX is continuing to follow its evolution and how it will improve the way people use our solutions.