You may have noticed little black-and-white boxes popping up in the pages of Gambit and other publications. These are "QR codes" (short for "quick response"), and they work just like the bar codes on products — except they can hold much more information and are designed to be interactive. All you need to use them is a smartphone.
What happens when you scan a QR code in the newspaper? If it's embedded in an ad, you might be taken to a business' website, receive a coupon, watch a video, receive directions, get a chance to make a donation or give your opinion. QR codes attached to an editorial story can provide extra content or context. A QR code at the end of a profile of a musician, for instance, might take you to concert footage, a contest entry, a video interview, the musician's Facebook page, a site for a free MP3 download or anything else that might be of interest.
Right now we run a weekly QR code at the bottom of our film listings. By scanning it, you can go quickly to Gambit's film listings page, where you can find updated theater schedules, buy advance tickets and watch movie trailers. We'll include QR codes with more Gambit content on a regular basis, with an eye on keeping it useful and fun for the reader.
Speaking of readers: Getting the software to read QR codes is easy — and it's free. iPhone and Android users can search their app stores for RedLaser or i-nigma Reader. BlackBerry users can find QR Code Scanner Pro at the BlackBerry App World site.
— Kevin Allman, editor