Chad Jenkins & Chris Forbes

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QR codes & smartphones make for smart ministry

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)--Recently the news has focused on how the use of smartphones has given a wake-up call to politicians as the phones have been instrumental changing politics in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. But smartphones are not only toppling powerful dictators. Recently they also have been reported to have deposed another unchallenged king of the mountain: the personal computer.       Technology researchers reported that smartphone shipments surpassed PC shipments in the past quarter. Now some ministry leaders are getting the call to create smart phone outreach using mobile websites and bar code scanners. New Quick Response (QR) barcode technology is revolutionizing communications, and many churches are deciding it is wise for ministers to incorporate the smart phone into their outreach planning.       QUICK RESPONSE CODES       A QR code is a matrix barcode that can be read by smartphone cameras with QR scanner apps installed. An estimated 40 percent of all smartphone owners have downloaded a barcode scanning app. Mobile technology experts report that during the last six months of 2010 QR code scanning increased 1,200 percent across North America.       QR codes are popping up everywhere, from your local grocery store to electronic billboards in Times Square. This new generation of bar codes is more powerful and flexible than previous ones. QR codes can hold more than 200 times the data of a regular barcode. The codes were originally created in 1994 by a subsidiary of Toyota for the purpose of tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing. Now they are being used to quickly get information into people's hands.       Marketers use QR codes for a variety of functions, ranging from directing the phone to a simple website to saving contact information. QR codes can send an e-mail or text message to a predetermined address. The codes also can prompt users to save event information in their phone's calendar.