QR codes, or “quick response” codes, were invented more than 15 years ago in Japan as a way to track automobile parts in production. But as soon as marketers got wind of the technology and smartphones came on the scene, the codes, which can reveal text messages, videos, Web pages and even dial a phone number for you, started being used in myriad ways. As QR codes become more and more popular, they’ve been popping up in the most creative places.

TV Commercials

One of my favorite examples was during the Lost finale lat year. Some of you fans might have noticed the flash of a red QR code during a True Blood commercial. If you stopped your DVR and shifted back to the code, you could pause the frame and scan the code. From there, you would have been taken to an exclusive clip from season 3. (In fact, if you try the red QR code here, with the blood, it should still work!)


Clothing companies have also been using them in innovative ways. For instance, window shoppers at some stores have wondered what the little square 8-bit-looking thingamajig is doing there next to, say, a certain jacket or a pair of shoes. Well, if you scan the code, you get a coupon for a discount on the item if you bring it inside the store on your phone. They’ve also been used in billboards. Calvin Klein used one to reveal a sensual video ad that played on your phone when you scanned the code.


More recently, we’ve seen a few different QR code tattoos. Jully Nascimento from Brazil got the below QR code inked on her arm. When scanned, it reads “hold on” - a song by Good Charlotte that Nascimento loves.


Japanese tombstone maker Ishinokoe now offers memorials that feature QR codes. Want to know more about the person entombed there? Just whip out your smartphone and scan the code. Closer to home, in Seattle, Quiring Monuments is also selling what they call "living headstones."


Of course, readers of this blog may recall when we gave away a brand new Ford Fiesta using an inventive (if I don’t say so myself) QR code scavenger hunt that took gamers through Manhattan.


But perhaps the most inventive use of the codes has been as works of art. For instance, artist Scott Blake uses them to construct composite portraits of people. Below is a portrait of radio show host Amy Goodman. Each code links to segments from her show over the past nine years.

And look how these fellows built out of nothing but sand on the beach!

And if that doesn’t rock your world, how about a hand-knitted QR code scarf?

This young lad got creative with M&Ms and built an edible one that takes you to M&M’s Web site.

And what QR code post would be complete without one made out of 5816 LEGO blocks?!