DENSO is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its invention of the QR code. The technology, a machine-readable code used for storing information, was created by DENSO-subsidiary DENSO WAVE with the goal of achieving more detailed production management at manufacturing sites.
In the 1980s, barcodes were widely used for manufacturing and distribution processes. However, within a decade, an industry shift from mass manufacturing to more flexible production required a stronger barcode. A two-person DENSO development team was tasked with the challenge, needing to create a code that could store more information, be read at a higher speed and fit on smaller surfaces. To accomplish this, the team spent nearly two years creating a design with a specific position detection pattern ratio – 1:1:3:1:1. These codes were two dimensional and could hold approximately 7,000 numerals, allowing them to be read more than 10 times faster than a traditional barcode.
Though QR codes were originally developed to create efficiencies in manufacturing processes, DENSO encouraged its use more broadly by making the technology license-free. Since its invention, the popularity of QR codes has spread to encompass numerous industries, including: hospitality and tourism, education, and real estate. The codes have contributed to the growth of cashless payment systems, are used to trace foods, pharmaceuticals and other merchandise, and are regularly seen on event tickets and advertisements.