“Color QR code era” or coming

A recent report shows that in 2019, the scale of the “economy on the code” brought by the WeChat ecosystem with the QR code as the carrier reached 8.58 trillion yuan. The QR code was “born in” Japan’s bubble economy in 1994, but it blossomed in China more than 20 years later. Originally known as the “father of two-dimensional code”, the original Changhong Hong, an engineer of Japan Denso Corporation who invented the two-dimensional code, was interviewed by Chinese media such as “Global Times” for the first time in the Tokyo office of Tencent. He said that he did not expect his invention. Great development has taken place in China. If patent fees were originally collected, perhaps QR codes would not be so popular. The QR code technology will continue to be developed in the future, but it remains open.

No patent fee for QR code

Hara Hara was born in 1957 and joined Denso Corporation of Toyota Motor in 1980. The company is a supplier of automotive technology, systems and components. He told the “Global Times” reporter that he was initially responsible for the R & D of barcode management for convenience store customers and the development of barcode reading devices. However, because the amount of barcode information is small, the reading ability is insufficient, the accuracy is not high, and errors often occur. So he thought, if there are so many flaws, can we develop some more easy and concise identification methods. Therefore, he started the research and development of QR codes in 1992.

At that time, the Japanese economy was in a slump, and the company’s operations were not very good. The R & D team consisted of only two people, including Hara Chang. To read and identify the two-dimensional code, a lot of corresponding software support is needed, and those softwares have to be developed by themselves, which takes a lot of time and is very difficult. Yuan Changhong recalled that the computer performance at that time was not very good. “The computer often crashed when the summer was hot, which was really painful.”

In the end, it took two years. Yuan Changhong developed a two-dimensional code technology that can record information in both horizontal and vertical directions. It has a greater amount of information and anti-smudge performance than a barcode. Japan Denso and Harahiro Hiroshi applied for a patent after inventing the two-dimensional code, but in order to make the two-dimensional code widely used, they decided to fully open the patent without charging a technical patent fee.

Some Japanese media have previously reported that the Japanese side intends to reaffirm the patent right to the QR code and wants to charge the Chinese one cent each. In response, Yuan Changhong officially denied the rumor. He said that as a technician, he was very happy that his invention could be applied to society so widely. “At that time, it was the world of barcodes. If I patented the QR code, it might not be as popular as it is now. It’s widely used, but it’s only code used internally by Toyota. ”

To the reporter’s surprise, Yuan Changhong has not been to China so far, but learned that QR codes are almost ubiquitous in China. From roadside vendors to subways, QR codes have developed tremendously in China. He said that it was only expected that this technology would be applied in the industry, but he never expected that the two-dimensional code would penetrate into the lives of ordinary people.

Yuan Changhong said that the original two-dimensional code technology patent has expired, and the use of two-dimensional code has open occasions and closed occasions. In open occasions, it is still free for everyone to “scan” in daily life. Because collecting patent fees is not conducive to the popularization of this technology, and it is not realistic to charge individuals. However, in some special closed occasions, such as the need for confidential technology or other additional services in some enterprises, it may be included in the consideration of fees in the future.

Why electronic payment has not been applied on a large scale in Japan According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun website, in recent years, with the rapid growth of Chinese tourists to Japan, mobile payment services such as Alipay and WeChat Pay have also entered the Japanese market. Not only convenience stores, Japanese vending machines, long-distance buses, insurance companies, and even mountain huts on Mount Fuji have introduced Chinese mobile payment services.

In response, Yuan Changhong said that there is currently no application software in the Japanese market like China WeChat that can integrate many functions with one App. This requires the cooperation of various technologies and the flexible application of big data technologies. “China It’s really great in terms of electronic payments. ” Contrary to China, two-dimensional code-based electronic payment has not been applied on a large scale in Japan. Yuan Changhong believes that one of the reasons is that there are still many people in Japan who use flip phones, and the penetration rate of smartphones is not as high as in China. Secondly, the fee for electronic payment in Japan is too high, but cash payment will be cheaper.

Don’t hate the “father of two-dimensional code”

When asked whether the existing two-dimensional code has obvious defects, Yuan Changhong replied that general two-dimensional codes have hidden dangers, are easily copied, and are easy to leak privacy. Yuan Changhong told reporters, “The best way I can think of is when you hold the mobile phone near the counter, the screen of the mobile phone turns black, but the sensor can still sense your QR code, so it won’t change your The dimension code is exposed. ”

For the title of “father of two-dimensional code”, Yuan Changhong replied humorously, and did not hate the title, “it must be more like the mother of two-dimensional code”. At present, Yuan Changhong is still working on the development of new features of QR codes, such as the development of more secure and more diverse QR code technologies.In addition, they have also developed 2D enhanced data privacy that can only be read by special equipment. Coding technology, etc. At present their technical team has 80 people, a lot more than the first two people.

Regarding the future development of two-dimensional codes, Yuan Changhong said that if you want to increase the amount of information in two-dimensional codes, you must rely on color, and the era of colored two-dimensional codes may be coming. He said that the first generation is an ordinary two-dimensional code; the second generation is a two-dimensional code with guaranteed security performance, which cannot be copied casually; for the third-generation two-dimensional code, although a patent has been obtained, it still needs a long time. Way to go. “I have the same belief that the third-generation QR code is the same as the development of the second-generation QR code, that is, although it has a patent, it remains open.” Yuan Changhong said that now there are more and more things that cannot be solved by a certain technology, and people who develop research in their fields can only solve problems better by adopting an open attitude and letting various technologies be used.

“One yard walks the world” has become a new way of life for Chinese users. The two-dimensional code has involved the food, clothing and housing of Chinese people, and has become a carrier for various applications such as financial payment, identification, and information inquiry. Experts said that “scanning payment” has more application prospects in China in the future.

“China’s QR code application is undoubtedly the best in the world.” Xiang Ligang, director of the Information Consumption Alliance, said in an interview with a reporter from Global Times that the QR code was invented by Japan, but In China, it is widely used in various fields related to mobile payment and e-commerce. Its frequency and amount of use are far more than those in Japan. Now China can be said to be the country with the highest frequency of use of QR codes and the most widely used applications .

Xiang Ligang said that the QR code has also changed a lot recently. “The earliest two-dimensional code was a square black code, but now the two-dimensional code has become more complicated, rounded, and even made more beautiful.” In addition, in the technology of the code, there are also color codes. Xiang Ligang said that when we scan the QR code, we need to be closer. If the distance is far, the information in the QR code cannot be read. But color codes can be identified by long-range scanning. “Like a poster, if we scan this picture at a long distance with a mobile phone, it will become a code, so its capabilities will become more powerful.”

In addition to QR code payment, what other scenarios will QR codes have in China in the future? Xiang Ligang believes that the most important function of QR codes is information storage. In the future, with the wider use of QR codes, QR codes can be made more complex and contain more information. “In short, any information that needs to be stored must have a certain confidential nature, and it must also be played. The ability to compress and integrate can be done with QR codes. ”

In the process of two-dimensional code going strong, 5G and blockchain will provide technical blessings for it. “The very important point of the blockchain is to encrypt the information,” Xiang Ligang said. With this ability, we can use the two-dimensional code to encrypt and compress the information to make it contain more information. It also makes information more secure. With the blessing of 5G technology, the ability to connect can be made stronger, faster, more information can be transmitted, and QR codes will become more powerful.