Denso Foresees Using its QR Code to Improve Security 25 Years After its Invention

The QR code invented by Denso, the world’s second largest mobility supplier with its North American headquarters in Southfield, has become a ubiquitous technology used in scanning devices, manufacturing quality control systems, and robots.
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Denso QR code flow chart
Q-revo is the collective name of cloud solution services using Denso’s QR code and including traceability, brand protection, anti-forgery measures, settlement/point and coupon management, and access control. // Image courtesy of Denso

The QR code invented by Denso, the world’s second largest mobility supplier with its North American headquarters in Southfield, has become a ubiquitous technology used in scanning devices, manufacturing quality control systems, and robots.

According to the company, the future of the QR code, which it introduced 25 years ago, has even greater potential to improve information security.

The company has launched a website that traces the history, future, and benefits of this technology that took bar coding to a new, square-shaped, level.

“One thing I was thinking about partway through the QR code’s development was to encode a database itself and use it offline,” says Hara Masahiro, one of the QR code’s developers. “It was often used this way in the initial stages, but this gradually decreased as the network developed.

“It might be worth revisiting as a way of avoiding social problems given it’s sometimes not possible to exchange data in the aftermath of a major disaster, when power outages happen, and telecommunications infrastructure has been damaged,” he continues.

“In addition, regarding the issue of database leaks of personal information, cases of recording a database in a QR code with security capabilities and storing it privately will also increase in the future. With that in mind, I will work to develop a QR code with even more advanced security so people can use it with peace of mind.”

Kenichiro Ito, senior executive officer for Denso Corp. and CEO of the company’s North American Headquarters, says, “Throughout its development, the QR code represented the type of innovation that Denso strives for in its efforts to shape the future of mobility. Twenty-five years later we can clearly see its vast and impactful results. It is this sort of long-term vision that we look to emulate today to not only improve upon what has already been built, but to create new products and services that will inspire a better future.”

In the 1980s, barcodes were widely used for manufacturing and distribution processes. Within a decade, however, an industry shift from mass manufacturing to more flexible production required a stronger barcode. A two-person Denso development team was challenged to create a code that could store more information, be read at a higher speed, and fit on smaller surfaces.

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 originally were 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.

Since launching the QR code in 1994, Denso Wave, a Denso subsidiary, has further advanced QR technology to meet social needs with its iQR code, its SQRC code, and its Q-revo protection service.

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