“QR” codes are doorways to other places. As you go through a newspaper or store, you will likely see some of these codes, square in shape and filled with dots and squiggly lines. Take a snapshot of them using your smartphone or tablet app for reading QR codes and they open to something else.

A nice example of their use recently was inCentral Park, New YorkCity. Printed QR codes were placed on posts around the park. When users scanned them with their smartphones, they got information about movie scenes shot at that spot, complete with clips from the movie. Sort of puts you in the picture. This can be done anywhere, of course, telling the story of a particular place. A little background music, please.

Increasingly it’s a QR world. This may be as much news to you as it was to us, since we never noticed them creeping up. When a giant QR code appeared in front of our apartment building several years ago, informing us of heaven knows what, we couldn’t read it. The app we used to scan it back then didn’t work, so we gave up. But now we know more. If you’ve got an Android phone, use the free “QR Droid.” If you’ve got an iPhone use the free “Zapper.” More info on both is at

QR Droid is a free app you can use to get a lot more than links to video clips and information. Besides viewing QR codes, it lets you create them automatically. For example, you can create one that contains information on how you can be reached. So the next time you’re asked for a business card, you can hand one over, or let your new contact scan the QR code instead. If they scan it, all the information goes straight into their phone. If they just have your card, they may or  may not bother to input the information into their phone or computer.

QRDroid has a variety of other codes you can create – should you be feeling creative. There are event codes, for instance, that automatically add events to your friends’ calendars when they scan the box, and a code that zooms in to a YouTube video or any other website as soon as they scan it.

We started small, scanning the QR code on an ad in the newspaper, and then moved on to a Coke bottle and found out about sales on diet Coke. The best scan was a QR code from Popular Science magazine. It produced a video of a new gyroscopic screwdriver that could tell whether you wanted to tighten or loosen, depending how you held your hand.

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