16 ways QR codes are used in China

by on August 22, 2017 at 1:45 am in Education, Web/Tech | Permalink

Yes the Chinese are ahead of us in many ways, here is one bit from an excellent article by Connie Chan:

#11 QR code as call box and information kiosk

Remember those emergency call boxes on the side of freeways? In Nanjing, China, smart street signs with QR codes provide the names and contact info for the local police. They also provide sightseeing guidance with directions, and information on how to handle a residence permit.


Since people in China believe that QR codes are here to stay, even tombstones are engraved with QR codes that memorialize the life-story — through biographies, photographs, and videos — of the deceased. From the leadership of the China Funeral Association: “In modern times, people should commemorate their deceased loved ones in modern ways”.

There is much more at the link.

1 Tyler August 22, 2017 at 2:37 am

I feel bad for the deceased with QR codes engraved on their tombstones. In the not so distant future QR codes are going to look like VHS tapes, and there they’ll be with a ugly outdated garble of bits on their tombstone.

What is modern now will eventually become very dated, and nobody seems to think of that.

2 Ray Lopez August 22, 2017 at 3:19 am

There was a chess grandmaster who put on his tombstone a brilliant winning move from one of his games…was it GM Averbakh? Let me Google it…no! Averbakh is alive at 95 years old, the oldest chess player at the moment! It was, says the authoritative Edward Winter, a certain obscure Dutch player (“Jacques Davidson, which has a problem engraved on it. It is mate in one. The solution is Kc9 or Kd9; the king goes to heaven, and his rival is mated”). Nowadays chess engines can find these moves almost instantly, but it does not diminish from the beauty of the move.

3 y81 August 22, 2017 at 6:55 am

I do not think most computers will find that move!

4 prior_test3 August 22, 2017 at 4:00 am

‘In the not so distant future QR codes are going to look like VHS tapes’

Maybe, maybe not. An ASCII obituary text file from the dawn of the VHS era is still readable today, after all. However, the infrastructure around QR codes is not as likely to survive in a similar fashion to the infrastructure surrounding reading an ASCII file. Not that anyone in China cares much about reading ASCII files from any time frame, since they are utterly worthless in connection with depicting Chinese ideographs.

5 AndrewL August 22, 2017 at 8:28 am

That’s not entirely true. With the pinyin system, all Chinese characters can be represented with the English alphabet, so you could depict the characters. Maybe not the prettiest, but certainly not worthless. In addition, China’s youth today perfer pinyin because predictive text input has made it much faster to write over handwriting input. https://phys.org/news/2010-08-wired-youth-china-japan.html

6 prior_test3 August 22, 2017 at 8:35 am

The pinyin system was not really used in the Western world at the dawn of the VHS era – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wade%E2%80%93Giles

7 AndrewL August 22, 2017 at 8:41 am

Why would you say that “no one in china cares much about reading ASCII files from any time frame?” the present is a time frame.

8 prior_test3 August 22, 2017 at 9:02 am

Fair enough, as that is most certainly what I wrote. The assumption concerned how long QR codes would be usable compared to the essentially no longer used VHS system. The example provided concerned an ASCII format obituary from ca. 1980 being completely readable today, as file formats and computer hardware do not have the same intrinsic connection as a VHS tape and a VCR.

With modern technology, nobody today would use ASCII – they would use Unicode, which encompasses ASCII in a manner that makes it possible to convert a pure ASCII (ANSI compliant, I believe – not going to bother to check in detail, no longer needing to deal with such problems) file from 1980 into modern Unicode with no problems. However, that same effortless format conversion will not change Peking to Beijing.

The idea being that ASCII was not particularly interesting for Chinese ideographs in the VHS era, and that Unicode has effectively replaced ASCII for more than a decade – yes, I skipped that part of the explanation in a clearly misplaced desire for brevity.

(And let’s just not talk about Taiwan in this regard.)

9 Thiago Ribeiro August 22, 2017 at 12:14 pm

“(And let’s just not talk about Taiwan in this regard.)”
You probably mean Formosa, which, as the name (“Beautiful” in Portuguese) shows, is a legitimate part of Brazil.

10 Actually August 22, 2017 at 12:59 pm

That would make it a legitimate part of Portugal, not Brazil, if it weren’t so insane.

11 Thiago Ribeiro August 22, 2017 at 1:16 pm

The Federative Republic of Brazil is the successor state of the Empire of Brazil, that was the successor state of the United Kingdom of Brazil, Portugal and Algarves, that was the successor state of the Kingdom of Po rtugal.

12 Yeah August 22, 2017 at 4:32 pm


13 Thiago Ribeiro August 22, 2017 at 4:38 pm


14 Andrea Matranga August 22, 2017 at 4:24 am

Perigal had a mathematical proof on his gravestone. https://plus.maths.org/content/dissecting-table

15 Mitch Berkson August 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

And Stevinus

16 Mark August 22, 2017 at 4:24 am

QR cods on tombstones are nothing new,as this Atlantic article from 2014 shows:


17 Art Deco August 22, 2017 at 5:44 am

Anime has done more to preserve western, American culture than the Republican Party ever has.

18 Butler T. Reynolds August 22, 2017 at 7:08 am


19 prior_test3 August 22, 2017 at 7:13 am

Non sequitur of the day! Good work.

20 prior_test3 August 22, 2017 at 7:39 am

Ja, eine Fälschung – obwohl ein bisschen witzig.

21 Axa August 22, 2017 at 7:18 am

QR codes are used for electronic boarding passes in mobile apps from all carriers.

We use it so often that we forget it’s there.

22 Meh August 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

I believe those are a different type of 2d barcode. Not all 2d barcodes are QR codes. For example, FedEx’s barcode structure is proprietary.

23 Matt August 22, 2017 at 8:11 am

I hope the readers on their phones work better than mine does – half the time I give up after 5-6 attempts. Why not just put a number to call?

24 rayward August 22, 2017 at 8:18 am

Isn’t something lost in translation when communicating in code? And I’m referring to any kind of code, whether spoken, written, symbols (emojis), QR, or any other code. I can foresee a future when all communication is via code. Some bloggers often communicate in code, which can result in amusing comments from those who don’t understand the code. Use of code to communicate is like a virus. It often starts with a crude form of spoken code, such as sarcasm, and progresses (or digresses) from there. Communicating in code is standard in war. And that includes “real” war as well as war of the political or social kind. Hiding one’s intentions by communicating in code might suggest something sinister. Of course, communicating unpopular ideas in code may be necessary to avoid unpleasant reactions to the communication. Communicating in code can also avoid hurting sensitive feelings. I came of age in an era in which communicating clearly was deemed both a sign of intelligence and a sign of good intentions, while communicating in code was considered subversive at best. Why else would one communicate in code? We’ve moved well beyond that simple era. Now, it’s almost all code. Do you recognize the code I am using in this comment?

25 Stormy Dragon August 22, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Isn’t written English ultimately just a code as well? In a few thousand years those old-fashioned tombstones may be the equivalent of Linear A.

26 Fazal Majid August 22, 2017 at 10:23 am

More importantly QR codes are integral to WeChat, the dominant messaging, payments and ecommerce platform in China, whose owner Tencent is the most valuable company in Asia.


https://www.theinformation.com/chinas-wechat-way-of-life (paywall)

27 Fazal Majid August 22, 2017 at 10:31 am

That’s also why Apple is going to fully embrace QR codes in iOS 11, after years of ignoring them.

28 Thiago Ribeiro August 22, 2017 at 10:54 am

Again, America bows before its paymasters. Mao, in 1949, famously declared that China was finally standing up. Will America ever stand up to China at any other arena of human endevour other than at Twitter?

29 Fazal Majid August 22, 2017 at 11:16 am

Much like my own, America’s cuckoldry knows no bounds!

30 Thiago Ribeiro August 22, 2017 at 11:33 am

It is more than I wanted too know about…

31 John Thacker August 22, 2017 at 11:04 am

Still kind of reminded about all the stories about the things that Japan’s advanced flip phones could do, or earlier than that, the wonders of France’s Minitel.

32 Harun August 22, 2017 at 11:10 am

You can pay for things with your Chinese phone app, but you can’t use a foreign credit card at a pretty decent hotel there.

So its two steps forward one step back…or maybe one step forward, two steps back if you’re a foreign visitor.

33 Cyrus August 22, 2017 at 11:22 am

Scanning a public QR code is as risky as following a hyperlink in an email from a stranger. This is an interface that should not be used until there is a widely adopted verifiability mechanism.

34 JWatts August 22, 2017 at 7:09 pm

+1, There’s nothing to stop a QR code from taking you to a high risk web site.

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