WE/AR Blog AR QR Code: What Is It and How Does It Work?
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AR QR Code: What Is It and How Does It Work?

By Oleg Boiko
7 min read
ar qr codes

An Augmented Reality QR code is a type of QR code that you can use to trigger a digital augmentation of reality. When scanned by a device, an AR QR code can be used to display digital content on top of the real-world environment. It can include 3D models, video, and other types of digital content. 

In some sense, QR codes act as a trigger for activating Web-Based AR (WebAR) experiences. With the introduction of QR content to AR content on a larger scale, you can also see that some people call them AR codes. Let’s find out more about AR codes, their differences from ordinary QR codes, and the benefits of using them for triggering AR experiences.

Differences Between AR and QR Codes

differences between ar and qr codes

When you see two terms, such as AR and QR codes, you’d think that these two are alike. Although AR and QR codes have many similarities regarding how they engage and reach users, their functionality has a range of discrepancies. Take QR codes, for instance. These 2D barcodes are squared and pixelated and can be scanned from your phone’s device to trigger a specific type of content. QR codes usually deliver a website, text, image, or similar information.

On the contrary, AR codes aim to merge the physical and digital worlds. When scanning the AR code with your device, you trigger the augmented reality experience. Usually, this experience capitalizes on using WebAR to provide a digitally enhanced real-world view with AR layers, 3D objects, and animations. However, some AR codes can be focused on a particular location and environment, also called location-based AR.

That said, mind that QR and AR codes are pretty similar, especially in the sense of being accessed using handheld devices. The user flow is also the same, except for the nature of the content you see after scanning the AR code.

Do You Need a Separate Scanner for QR Codes?

There’s a common misconception when choosing a scanner for QR and AR codes. Some speculate that you need a separate application that would trigger the AR experience. Others say using your native сamera app is sufficient for scanning AR and QR codes. The short answer is: no, you don’t need a separate application or scanner for AR or QR codes. From Android 8 and iOS 11 updates, both devices can trigger the desired experience just by using your native Camera application. As easy as it gets!

Types of Augmented Reality Codes

Now, let’s dive deeper into various AR codes you can use for your immersive projects. Currently, the most widespread Augmented Reality code types include immersive, social media, and flying-over codes.

ar codes type
Source: ar-code.com

Let’s go through each of these types one-by-one to get a better idea of how they work:

  • Immersive AR codes rely upon rendering using the ARKit, ARCore, or one of many WebAR frameworks. When you scan such a code using your device camera, you’ll see one or more animated 3D objects, which form the entirety of the AR experience. Immersive codes are one of the most popular types to interact with your target audience uniquely.
  • Social media AR code type heavily relies upon scanning the environment and applying augmented reality filters. This way, you can change your appearance, blend the physical and digital worlds, and distribute the result to your social media channels. Undoubtedly, such AR codes are primarily used for marketing and social media purposes.
  • Flying-over codes work a bit differently from the other two types. When you scan this interactive QR code, you see a flying-over image, text, or different types of content. In particular, this code type will be displayed literally on the top of the QR code. It works best when you’d like to present a voucher, discount, or other related features.

Benefits of Using QR Codes for AR

Alright, what’s the point of using QR codes for Augmented Reality projects? Let’s take a sneak peek at some appealing benefits of using QR codes for AR-related activities:

  • QR codes help gather, track, and analyze the user data that can help measure the AR campaign’s success.
  • Let’s not forget that these are the cheap way to integrate custom AR content into product and marketing materials.
  • QR codes help launch specific AR experiences, such as those scanned from magazines, flyers, and product packaging.
  • Compared to other types of AR content, QR codes are more accessible and less resource-intensive to generate and distribute.
  • Not to mention that QR codes have a decent scannability speed, significantly boosting the customer experience.
  • Most QR codes are designed to be run using WebAR technologies, which require no application to be downloaded or installed, thus simplifying the user flow.

Let’s not forget that QR codes are becoming increasingly popular among AR-leaning companies. You might also want to consider watching the best QR code AR examples with such a stunning range of benefits, as follows.

Best QR Code Augmented Reality Examples

You might have wondered what industries can benefit from the QR AR codes the most? Let’s take a look at the AR QR code example niches.

Museums and art galleries.

Artivive ar qr codes
Source: artivive.com

When properly using QR codes, visitors can get additional information about particular exhibits using augmented reality. Take Artivive as an example of the app that allows adding augmented reality experiences to QR codes in the exhibition environment.

Retail stores.

ar qr code in retail
Source: beaconstac.com

When visiting the store physically, you can scan the QR AR codes to get additional information on product information, technical specifications, details, and other relevant data. All these are possible by scanning the QR code near the price tag of any item you choose.


ar qr code in healthcare
Source: yale.edu

Since QR codes can be scanned in a matter of seconds, they can become great tools for efficiently sharing healthcare data. Scan the QR code with your phone to get a wide range of data, including but not limited to doctor’s prescriptions, medication information, appointment reminders, and more.

Education and training.

ar qr code in education
Source: teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk

The intended audience can use QR codes to interact with immersive content and simulations. When scanned, a QR code can launch an augmented reality experience that allows users to view educational content, participate in simulations, or even test their knowledge interactively.

Marketing and advertisement.

ar qr code in marketing and advertisement
Source: aircards.co

When running the activation or marketing campaign, companies can smartly distribute QR codes to provide engaging content to users. Once the QR codes are scanned, the audience can view the product information, get a reminder of the upcoming event, be invited to take part in the interactive experience, or just watch a piece of video content. Once again, the options are literally limitless!

How to Create an AR Code

Creating the AR code is now easier since companies have numerous tools to generate and distribute QR codes. Some companies provide ready-made solutions, such as AR-Code, and others distribute more technical tools on GitHub. However, it might be a better option to create a custom AR solution and distribute unique QR codes to match your individual business needs and objectives. If you lean towards releasing specialized AR solutions, consider dropping us a line at hello@wear-studio.com to discuss all the relevant details and start working on your project!