May 16, 2011

Idea: Useless QR Codes

You’ve probably noticed QR codes in ads, real estate listings, and band fliers around your town. They look like broken checkerboards or crossword puzzles, with black squares and white squares placed seemingly at random. The idea is that you’ll use your phone’s camera to scan the QR code, and reveal a URL, phone number, or message about the advertiser.

At SXSW this year, I noticed that they were everywhere. Surfaces were covered with fliers and stickers that all featured QR codes. People wore t-shirts promoting their company on the front, with a big QR code on the back. Did people actually bother to scan the QR codes with their phones? I have no idea. But I wished I had the forethought to bring my own fliers or stickers with totally useless QR codes to post hidden among the noise.

So I’ve come up with some useless QR codes just right for stickers and fliers. Maybe you’ll have an opportunity to use them before I do.

You can scan these with your phone (try an app like RedLaser for iPhone or Android) to reveal the messages the way other people will see them. Or, hover your mouse over the code for a second to reveal the encoded message.

Order this sticker here.

Order this sticker here

Order this sticker here

Also available on apparel.

Of course, you don’t have to use my useless QR codes. Make your own useless QR codes and bring them to your next convention, expo, or other gathering.


Ah, this is wunderful! I am currently preparing a series of QR Code Stickers with little text bits encoded. They have nice thoughts or cites encoded which makes them a liiiitttle more useful than your codes. But the fun will be the same. And you were first to post the idea.

But i will give you another cool idea:
A tear-off calendar with one QR code per day having just the date encoded. Woudn’t that be geeky?

As one who loathes QR codes, I LOVE this idea. Mocking them with themselves.

Another idea: A font where each glyph is the QR code for the appropriate letter. :)

I’ll see your useless QR code and raise you subversive ones:

So sad. We can’t use RedLaser in Canada.

I wonder if anyone yet used QR codes to propose marriage?

You need a version of “Duck Duck Duck” that resolves to “Grey Duck” for Minnesotans.

I keep thinking about memorizing a small QR code so I can draw it on random things.

All of those QR codes should resolve to rick rolls.

@Heidi: You can get Barcode Scanner done by the zxing (Zebra Crossing) team. It’s open source and available for free for Android and iPhone.

Get it here:

So funny. My husband was doing QR Code marketing for a while until he realized it was a lost cause. Those stickers would be ideal for some trickery like you described.

Inspired by this site I made a TBBT inspired QR-code imgthingimajing..
Find it here: