QR ("Quick Response") codes are pretty similar to the more familiar (in the U.S.) bar code. They look something like this...
The square format allows for more information than a simple bar code, and thus people are able to encode something more complex than a string of numbers. The above code, for example, is the URL for ComicBookFanthropology.com. Now, here's the clever bit: with the proper software on your cell phone, you can take a photo of a QR code from most any angle and it will be able to read/translate the code back into something readable. Furthermore, if the code in question is a URL, it will automatically link you to that web site! If it's a phone number, it will automatically dial it for you!
Think about that. You're walking along the street and see one of these codes on a billboard or the side of a bus or on a t-shirt or something. You snap a picture with your phone, and you're linked over to a coupon for 10% off your next meal at a nearby restaurant. Or a special offer from the movie theater. Or a unique comic only available to CCI attendees. It's a web link that works in a real world environment.
Now I said, "About damn time!" earlier and that's because this has been big in Japan for years! I've been itching to see it gain more acceptance/use here in the U.S. for at least the past 2 or 3 years, and even got into an argument with one of my former band mates two years ago when I wanted to include a QR code as a prop on stage. (He never quite got the idea, and dismissed it out-of-hand.) Why this hasn't caught on yet in the States, I have no clue.
I have yet to actually find a QR reader for my phone so I haven't been able to activate any codes to see how seamlessly they work. (I use an LG Dare if anyone happens to know of an existing QR reader for it, or wants to program one.) But I'm eager to hear how well this is used and to what extent at CCI and I'd appreciate anyone able to attend the show commenting on the experience. Many QR readers for different phones can be found here.
Hopefully, some folks will find the QR codes at CCI interesting and useful, and can help to propagate their more widespread use.