Link Spam Your Friends With Printed QR Codes


While [Oryx] is down with social media like Facebook and Twitter, there are times when he wants to share things with people he is hanging out with in the real world. Sure, he could always email his friends links to the latest video of a cat doing something totally hilarious, but he wanted something a bit more tangible.

He had a small thermal printer from SparkFun kicking around, and thought it would be the ideal medium for sharing things with others. He sat down and put together a bit of code that allows him to interface the printer with his computer, generating QR codes from his web browser with the simple click of a button. Now, when he wants to pass something along to a friend, he can quickly print out a label bearing both a QR code and URL for easy access later on.

All in all it’s an interesting idea, though we would be curious to see what would happen if we handed our non-techie friends a printed QR code.

39 thoughts on “Link Spam Your Friends With Printed QR Codes

  1. This just kind of reminds me,
    I have been considering putting up a QR code on my apartment door that links to a little “hello” page, so tech inclined neighbors can learn a bit about who I am, and possibly make friends, with links to my G+ account and my e-mail address if they want to say hi.

    1. yes and be sure to have lots of photos on your linked social media sites so the neighbors can make a quick assessment of any belongings they would like to “borrow” when you arent home.

      1. Yeah that was one of my concerns, which I almost mentioned in my first post.

        I guess there is always some risk when you meet neighbors that they’ll visit once just to case the place.

        Luckily I put about zero pictures on social networks from inside my house. Just not the way things work out with me.

    2. I was going to print one like that on a t-shirt transfer, then rig the server to text me when there’s a hit on the page, so I’ll know when someone is “looking” at me.

      No need to have dozens of different shirts with witty sayings, logos or cute cat pictures–just change the page!

  2. You can scan those with a Cue-Cat, right?

    Kina a solution without a problem at the moment, and Joe Q. Public ain’t interested.

    I thought of doing the QR business card thing, then realised only a small segment of the population would be able to contact me. I’m not sure I want contact with that small segment…

    My favourite is here:

    QR codes on webpages now? Handy!

      1. I know.

        QR codes are about as useless as the Cue-Cat was. Cool in a nerdy techy way, but yeah.

        By the time you stuff about getting a photo and running the software (what, your phone doesn’t have it?) you could probably key in a short URL link.

      2. the difference is, that the cuecat came too early. it had to be connected to your home pc, you bring the add to the cuecat and scan it just to end up on an advertiser’s stupid web page.

        now you have kids running around with internet enabled smart phones and bored. all they have to do is see a qr code near their favorite teen store, that says “contest. free ipad” and they will scan it. and instantly they end up on the advertiser’s stupid web page.

    1. These might be valid concerns in a retirement community or something, but if you haven’t noticed (I.E. haven’t gone into a retail store, or view advertisements) the use of QR codes has absolutely exploded in the last year.

      Nearly every piece of mail or flyer I get has QRs on them, and most big box retail stores are using QRs on individual products and displays. The Home Depot now has QR codes on every single item in sections like their outside garden department, as it’s a lot easier for customers to look up plant care info on their smartphone than trying to print it all out on the pot.

      All that being said, if your business is selling Jazzy scooters or Ensure to retirees, then you may be right.

      1. How many get scanned?

        Those Cue-Cat barcodes got printed everywhere too, with the same justification.

        Sure, scan the code and it takes you to the website… which in most cases is rubbish, no more than description & price, just like it says next to the QR code. Yay progress.

        Scan this and get 20% off, now you’re talking.

      2. @Tony,
        QR-CODE is just a tool, like the Cue-Cat. To analyse technology you’ve to do it on the CTS field. The Cue-Cat and some QR don’t fails for the technology but the way that this was applied, and may be too on the marketing approach.
        In Japan any one with a mobile knows what a QR is, and this people consumes the QR a lot.

    2. Yeah… QR codes are really popular, and really easy to read nowadays. Android has a bunch of great simple QR code reader apps and I’m sure Apple does too.

      I keep the QR code reader app on my phone’s main screen, so its always no more than two taps away. Its great not just for QR codes but regular UPC barcodes – scan a bar code for a product I see at a store and it will send me straight to google with prices online. Really handy!

      So one of the values of the app is that it has more than one use, unlike the cue cat. But also its free and easy to get. And you say “but what if you don’t have the app?” Well, that’s generally only a problem once per person isn’t it?

      Sure if its just to some advertisers web page I don’t care, but there are other web pages I *actually* want to visit (I mean, you’re on the web by choice, right?) so there are certainly times where someone links me to a QR code and it *will* be faster than keying in the address, and I actually want to go there.

      Trust me, these can actually useful.

    1. If you cut down all the trees, then you’ll have nothing to staple the QR posters too.

      Totally OT, but now I’ve got the urge to create a QR-based clock. That will be about most annoying useless clock ever.

      1. that idea is wickedly brilliant.

        however, not a clock face with qr codes printed on it, but a mechanical qr code that changes bits. if you scan and decode it, it tells you the current time. (preferably right below the time display of your cell phone)

      2. That’s what I was thinking.

        To cheer up the people who think QR codes are useful I’ll sent them to a website that shows them a picture of a clock.

        That won’t fit in a mini QR code, and I’ll need 86400 photos, all too hard.

        Even a mini QR code is a lot of work, 20×20 (?) is 400 elements that need to be controlled. White LEDs behind smoke glass? 400 solenoids? Gigantic scroll?

        Possibly worth it for the totally useless stupidity of it all.

        Someone needs to run up a QR clock webpage.

      1. @Taylor
        Only 208 actually, and that’s for version 1 standard QR (many common mobile phone apps can’t read mini QR codes.) There are more pixels in the image, but a large part of it is static (alignment, timing, version info.) Only 208 bits change with the data (incl. error correction codes.) Still, 208 solenoids is an awful lot. Maybe there are some larger areas that repeat so you can change the area as a whole… An electromechanical (or even fully mechanical) QR clock would be incredibly awesome!

      1. QR Codes are not useless. The only reason why people think they’re useless is because they think the QR’s can only contains link information pointing to a web page – which is false!

        It can contain information about allergies at restaurants (this is already in effect in Japan). It can also contain short text snippets.

        They also allow for hierarchy in barcodes for storage.

  3. Although i find QR codes useless to my life, this project would be so much better if the printer would have Bluetooth and a rechargeable battery.
    This should make it portable and usable directly from the phone.

      1. I work in the scanning industry, and I don’t scan QR codes.

        I don’t know of anyone else who would bother to either. Typical conversation:

        “Scan the code and it’ll tell you stuff!!”
        “Why don’t you just print it there instead?”

        Sure, you can pack a lot into a high density code, but then your success rate goes down.

        Still waiting for the ‘killer app’.

    1. @tony

      “Scan the code and it’ll tell you stuff!!”
      “Why don’t you just print it there instead?”

      Because some things can’t be printed, like videos or interactivity.

      “Sure, you can pack a lot into a high density code, but then your success rate goes down.”

      I agred with you about the code density. Crap mobiles has crap cameras and crap optics. The only way to mantain the readibility is make the module as big as posible and this imply the most lower density posible.

      1. I’ll bet you’ve got one of those fridges with a built-in barcode reader that keeps track of your ‘stock level’, or one of the microwave ovens that scan then automatically set the power & time.

        No? But think, how cool is that!

        QR-Codes are about on that level of usefulness for the average person. Even nerds get bored with them pretty quickly.

        So a QR-Code can have a link to a video or “Hello World!” coded in it. How exciting!

  4. sometimes new tech needs lots of people trying lots of stupid/pointless things with it before someone hits on the “big idea” that pushes it into the mainstream. projects like this are a vital part of the exploration and development process. naysayers either a) hate the fact that they didn’t think of it first, or b) have no imagination.

  5. Check out (; it sells QR code stickers that you can use to connect videos, photos, audio recordings, etc. Basically makes it fast and easy to do the same thing. It also doesn’t require a QR code reader.

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