Meet the businessman behind QR codes, a key tool in Covid-19 contact tracing efforts

They’re black, white and they’re being read by smartphones all over the world.

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With the need to record the public places we visit, this particular piece of technology has had a renaissance during the pandemic. Source: 1 NEWS

QR codes have had a renaissance thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, becoming a key tool in New Zealand and international contact tracing efforts.

1 NEWS tracked down the man who first designed them in 1994.

Masahiro Hara, a businessman from Japan, spoke to 1 NEWS from his office, with the help of a colleague who was translating.

The call started with a friendly wave from them both, wearing masks thanks to Japan’s ongoing fight against Covid-19.

I asked Hara how he feels about the increased use of the QR code over the past year.

“He is very happy more and more people in New Zealand are using the QR code in the market,” his colleague responded.

“Hopefully we continue to get good uptake in New Zealand.”

Hara’s company, DENSO WAVE, was originally tasked with building a replacement for the barcode, which would only usually convey a string of seven digits.

After about a year and a half they had their final design, capable of coding 7,000 characters, which was able to be scanned much faster.

It was first adopted by the automobile industry to help keep track of parts and equipment.

The death of the QR code was widely reported in 2011.