How Flowcode QR Codes Work: A Technical Guide

February 23rd, 2021 · 4 minute read

Have you ever wondered how a Flowcode can send your phone to a digital experience in a matter of seconds? It’s pretty amazing technology. This instant connection between the physical and digital world seems like something out of Harry Potter — and yet QR codes pre-date the fictional wizarding world by three years! So, how do they work? Let’s take a look.

The Basis of QR Codes 

QR codes were invented in 1994 as a means of tagging parts in automotive factories. Similar to barcodes, they were a way for a scanning device to access a string of data. But while barcodes are limited to simple alphanumeric strings, QR codes could hold a lot more information — even entire pages (7,089 numeric characters or 2,953 alphanumeric characters to be precise).

QR codes and the next generation of QR codes, Flowcode work by encoding data. This means that a set of alphanumeric characters are translated into a coded format. In a Flowcode, this is a series of dots, circles, lines, and other marks. Your smartphone camera (or any code scanning device) interprets that series to unlock the data inside.

But, how does that work?

The Parts of a QR code

Every Flowcode contains three main components.

First, the position markers (typically at the bottom left, top left, and top right) tell the scanner where to begin and end reading the code. Each marker comprises an inner and outer eye to orient the device.

Second, the quiet zone forms the boundaries of the code. This white space is crucial to making the code work — so don’t crop it off when printing your code!

Finally, a set of data modules contains the numbers and text encoded in the image. The unique configuration of modules is what makes each QR code unique. 

Flowcodes are dynamic codes, meaning even after you've printed the code, you can change where that code scans to an infinite number of times. This works because the code doesn’t actually go to the link directly; it uses a redirection URL, whose destination can be changed. The code itself encodes the redirection URL, the fourth and final component of the code. 

The Scanning Process

So, when you scan a code, your phone first identifies the position markers. Then, it begins scanning. At the bottom right is the mode indicator, which tells the scanner which type of character to expect. Usually, this is a number or letter, but it can also represent a byte of data or a kanji. Close to the mode indicator is an alignment indicator that allows the device to parse angled codes.

Then, the device counts the next 8 data modules, which give the total character count of the encoded data. Now that these boundaries are known, the device can scan the entire code in a zig-zag pattern. As it does so, it interprets each data module accordingly, eventually building the entire URL.

So, how much can you store in a QR code? Depending on the complexity of the data, a code can have up to 177 rows and 177 columns. That’s 31,329 possible data modules, which is more than enough for most codes! In any case, the device scans the code quickly, interpreting each module according to the parameters set by the mode indicator and quiet zone. Neat, huh?

Why Flowcode is Better and Safer

Previously, QR codes could be easily corrupted if they were printed incorrectly or damaged. While they were less likely to be duplicated than barcodes, they could still lead to the wrong destination — which caused some embarrassing marketing efforts!

Flowcode is the most advanced form of QR codes, most obviously on the design front. Our custom codes are handcrafted by our team of designers and beautifully merge branding and QR technology. Flowcode can incorporate any brand elements from your logo to your color palette, all while maintaining a 99.9% scan accuracy rate.  

We take your data and privacy very seriously and we mean it when we say, Flowcode is the safest QR code on the market. It is important for you to know that most QR codes are not privacy compliant. We are CCPA and GDPR compliant and abide by all privacy laws, both domestic and international. 

We also want you to own all of the data and analytics that come off of the code interaction. Our Flowcode platform will help you understand brand engagement of your products and services by looking at scan rates and connection points on where, when and how consumers are seeing your brand.

Best of all, smartphones can scan them automatically — no need for fancy devices or QR code scanning apps. So what are you waiting for, head to Flowcode.com and get started today!

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