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Wounded QR Codes (datagenetics.com)
196 points by stansmith on Nov 8, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 49 comments

For those few of us that don't have any device with a built-in capability of interpreting QR codes: http://zxing.org/w/decode?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.datagenetics.co...

There are quite a few more applications for the use of QR codes besides sharing marketing infos and links on smartphones.

One of the more creative ones I've seen recently is creating a really long-term data storage (Giga-Year) based on QR-Codes - http://vimeo.com/77028789

Qrafter (pretty much the best qr-code reader in existence) out-performs on this test.

I was able to scan at least two that the author said weren't scannable.


I was able to properly scan "Spray painted code" and "ripped by gap" with the RedLaser iPhone app.

Don't let the last one get you down.

Yes -- me too. Using RedLaser, I was able to scan 5 (low contrast), 9 (missing position square), 11 (vertical gap), 25 (warp drive), and 29 and 30 (ant invasion). I was not able to scan 17 (extreme tilt) or 23 (dizziness). This points out how important the software is.

"These are not the pixels you are looking for." Choice.

> Choice.

Are you by any chance a Kiwi?

literally prior art:


and this one has the benefit of allowing you to make a qr code with your face on it :)

It also has the huge advantage of remaining valid, by sacrificing capacity rather than sacrificing redundancy.

You can also embed higher-res images in QR codes without breaking them.


Anyone know of a publicly available implementation of this?

For companies that make "creative" QR codes, aren't they already giving up the 20% error correction?

It depends on how creative they get. If they're just rounding the corners on the squares to make it look more fluid, then it's definitely not a full 20% being used. If they're plopping a logo into the center of it, then it depends on how large the logo is proportional to the code's size.

Yes, but assuming errors are uniformly distributed, there's a chance read errors will actually correct problems. They'll occasionally flip the bit that was tampered with.

So error correction gets worse (less effective), but maybe not as bad as you might believe.

One thing that still bugs me about QR code error correction is the lack of support for codes with inverted color schemes. Unless I'm mistaken, this feature should be relatively simple to implement (ie. checking for two patterns) yet most of the applications I know fail at reading an inverted code (ie google goggles).

What purpose do inverted colors serve? Is there some use of QR codes that is poorly served by the standard scheme but better served by an inverted one?

Aesthetics of the rest of the image / object it is on. Inverting allows you to have a black 'quiet area' rather than a lighter one.

That being said, if you are putting QR codes on anything aesthetics are probably not something that even registers with you.

The bit at the end made me happy - I didn't know QR codes code be that large. I wonder what the practical maximum number of bits is? I just tried the ones on the Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code#Storage) - the one that's 5 alignment blocks wide scans, but the one that's 7 alignment blocks wide does not. I assume my primitive old phone's camera lacks the resolution for it. Unfortunately the captions are wrong - they both say 177x177.

There's a 3DS game called Pullblox (or Pushmo), which allows you to make your own (low-res 2D bitmap) levels and then distribute them via a massive QR-code.

For what it's worth, the giant code scans fine for me using QR Reader on an iPhone 5S. Pretty amusing.

On my nexus 4 I managed to scan the giant QR code... except for it was read a serial code instead lol

I have some QR code artwork hanging on a wall in my house. That artwork made it into a photo that happened to be taken in that room which I shared on Facebook. I was surprised when someone was able to take that photo, zoom in on the off-angle unevenly-lit code behind glass, scan it and post its message as a comment.

Apart from all the other problems with QR codes, the tombstoning case (one of the failures here) is important in reality.

Without that, you have to awkwardly scan from exactly the correct direction.

The thing is, you surely could correct for that(?)

I was able to scan two "unscannable" codes: (5) "Even more reduced contrast", and (30) "Spray painted code" on my Moto X. Woot! What do I win?!

In addition to 5 and 30, 11 (the one with a gap) also scanned fine for me (using the SoftBank QR app)

Does anyone have a sense of what percentage of the smartphone-owning population actually knows what QR codes are and would bother to scan them? I'm as technically savvy as your average HN reader I would think, and I ignored the things for years before finally spending the 2 minutes to learn what they are. It's always made me assume that the average person wouldn't bother with them.

Apparently it is around 20% - http://gizmodo.com/5969312/how-qr-codes-work-and-why-they-su... (paragraph 8).

I would imagine this might be a tad optimistic, mainly due to their use being limited to only a few forms of advertisement (print being the main one). The only time I can remember using a QR code was when I watched a stream of the Google I/O 2010 conference and they showed one to get a CR-48 chromebook. Needless to say, that QR code will forever be my favorite one.

QR codes are great for augmenting ads, booklets and other stuff, but if you want reliable readability, you shouldn't go with more than a simple color change, in my experience.

I was tasked with creating QR codes for certificates (every certificate leads to a unique page for the certificate number on the website, for security and more information since the certificates were small and made to be pretty instead of useful).

We ended up with Level M golden (more like dark yellow) colored QR codes in the corner - using higher error correction is actually detrimental the smaller you go, and backgrounds, embossing or any kind of advanced design would lead to it being very hard to read - it's better to have a plain ugly QR code that is immediately scannable with any device than a pretty one that is unreadable (just imagine your buyers trying to scan the damn thing five times in a row then give up in frustration).

But the client really liked the idea (and the results), and I am still surprised that so many people don't even consider this nowadays...

Cool! I hand painted a QR code[0] in about .75x.75" onto a painting my father did for a friend and while working on it I spent about an hour or two implementing different codes of varying complexity in pencil to see how far I could go before it would get corrupted. It actually works[1] but it's on the wall in a music venue so unfortunately it takes a few extra seconds for some people's phones to adjust to the lower light.

[0] http://conundrum.us/cmhpolka.html [1] http://zxing.org/w/decode

Several of the 'no' examples were correctly scanned by the 'Google' app for iPhone. This was a wonderful tour of some of the capabilities of QR codes.

The problem are the three big squares in the edges, if they are damaged the QR code won't be recognized as such - and the edges are usually what gets damaged first.

I managed to read most of the codes he marked as unreadable in QRReader iOS app. I don't know what he used. But kinda interesting article.

I was actually wondering the same exact thing for one of my clients. We are using QR codes (and their scans) to enable distribution of music for independent (unsigned) bands, while tracking who their new fans are, and how they're getting new fans. The core is a marketing/analytics tool/engine, but the front-facing product to the fan is a simple fangate.

One of these is actually scanned successfully by RedLaser:

1. Spray painted code. Does it scan? (author says NO)

Thanks for the end.

Saving that last QR Code for later... :)

I did an experiment once where I took a sharpie and colored in "random" (to me) squares of a QR code. I managed to fill in quite a few before it stopped scanning (maybe 10-20).

Fantastic post. It's about time we start looking at QR as a technology instead of a marketing engine.

Agreed. For things like prescriptions, and organization, it's a great tool that bridges the information gap.

Wow that's really impressive!

The final QR code was fantastic :D


people still use QR codes?

Wait... We're still talking about QR codes?

Whenever I read anything about QR codes I can't take it seriously because I always immediately think of this: http://picturesofpeoplescanningqrcodes.tumblr.com/

You know I do to, but usually only as I find myself actually scanning a QR code. Which is not all that rare it turns out, mostly bus stop schedules.


My startup is seeing 300% month over month growth using the disruptive marketing power of QR codes and Second Life.

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