A New Life for QR Codes?

Like many of you I have Facebook friends who like to repost viral content. I usually scroll past the political memes (no thanks, Dad) and videos of increasingly elaborate “promposals,” although I have a soft spot for the oft-shared videos of dogs welcoming their military people back from deployment. The other day a former coworker of mine shared a Facebook post that normally I would have scrolled past had it not been for the QR code in the accompanying photo.

In class we talked about QR codes as one of those forms of technology that never quite caught on. Sure, they were ubiquitous for a while, posted in subway stations, at bus stops, and sometimes even on the sides of buses. Should I ask the driver to slow down so that I can scan the QR code to find out about your awesome apartment complex? No thanks.

The organization featured in the viral Facebook was If I Need Help. Founded by the parents of a son with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), If I Need Help’s main product is an ID patch (QR code-based) that individuals with ASD and other communicative issues can wear in case they are separated from their caregivers or are in situations where they might need assistance from the public. Scanning the QR code allows someone to view important information like medical conditions, ways to help calm the individual who needs help, etc.

It’s certainly not perfect, but this organization has hit on something. I had a close call in the emergency room when, too sick to communicate the medical team, I received a large dose of an antibiotic to which I had a severe allergy. I started wearing a necklace listing my allergies in case it happened again. QR codes enable caregivers and just regular good samaritans to access a much greater deal of information than jewelry. I would urge nonprofits like If I Need Help to consider investing in QR codes as a way of conveying key information that could be used to save lives!

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