We are currently working on a set of mobile applications (Windows Phone, iOS, and Android) that will be used to scan QR Codes for conference attendee badges. We want the information contained within the QR code to be basic contact information that is useful to both a conference vendor as well as other conference attendees. When looking at the various standard QR Code formats, a couple of them stood out: vCard and meCard.
The vCard format contains fields for everything we wanted to store but also included fields we didn’t care about (e.g. address, city, zip, country, and URL). We could just ignore those fields however this format also produces a more tightly filled QR Code which can be a bit more challenging for some mobile devices to read (especially on conference badges that may have glossy covers, be slightly bent, etc.).
The meCard format is basically a more compact version of the vCard format. However, it doesn’t have the organization and title fields we desire and still has most of the extra fields listed above.
Another down side to the above formats is that, by default, most QR Code scanners will attempt to add information scanned in these formats as stored contacts. This isn’t always a bad thing but, in our case, we simply want to store the information within our application for later retrieval as well as have the ability for the scanned information to be displayed in an easy-to-read format – without first storing it as a contact.
Based on these discoveries and our needs, we decided to create a simple, text-based QR Code format that fits our needs. We have called this format HDC-Connect for QR Codes.
HDC-Connect is a specially formatted QR Code containing a small amount of contact information. The information provided by an HDC-Connect code typically provides just enough information to get in touch with a contact after the initial encounter.
A QR Code that utilizes the HDC-Connect format contains the following five pieces of information, each on a single line (followed by a carriage return/line feed):
- Full Name – this is typically the contact’s first and last name
- Job Title – the contact’s job title – e.g. Enterprise Architect
- Company – the name of the company the contact works for
- E-mail Address – the contact’s e-mail address
- Phone Number – the contact’s phone number
If any of the above information is to be omitted, there should be an empty line with a carriage return/line feed combination in its place. In other words, there should always be five lines of data contained within the QR Code, even if some of the information is excluded.
Here is a sample QR Code encoded using the HDC-Connect format:
If you scan the above QR Code, it will be decoded as the following text:
Super Systems Design
Each of the five lines of data in this QR Code correspond to the five fields described above.
The HDC-Connect format was designed for badges printed for conference attendees. The HDC-Connect code would typically appear on the back of the badge. The badge can be quickly scanned to obtain a conference attendee’s contact information. Typical scenarios include conference vendors scanning attendee information as they visit vendor booths. Attendees may also elect to scan another attendee’s badge as a quick way to gather contact information as they network during the event. Depending upon the application being used to scan the QR Code, you may be able to quickly add the information directly as a contact on the mobile device.
Most applications that can scan a QR Code can interpret the HDC-Connect format. For example, Bing Vision on Windows Phone is capable of scanning the HDC-Connect format and displaying it in a typical contact card format. As mentioned above, we are also working on a set of mobile applications to scan QR Codes encoded using the HDC-Connect format.
The use of the HDC-Connect format is free of any license.
The HDC-Connect format as described above was really built for our own needs. However, it is easy to see that the format may be useful to other applications and uses outside of what we intend to use it for (e.g. conference badges). If you end up using the QR-Code format in your applications, please let us know. We’d love to hear about it.