You've probably seen Quick Response (QR) codes -- those little, two-dimensional bar-code-like squares with squiggly lines and designs -- at random places around town. They serve a variety of functions: Scan them with your smart phone, and they'll take you to a Web site or phone app, give you coupons and maps to find restaurants or businesses or help you remember to have your car serviced. You can even imprint one on a T-shirt to take the place of business cards. QR codes help draw you to all sorts of places and events.
You can find QR codes everywhere these days – even in the bedroom. Hold on ... really? Does anybody really need that level of communication when it comes to sex? Why would anyone put a QR code on a condom -- and who would use it? Well, since you asked ....
At Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW), serving western Washington State, Idaho and Alaska, the answer is easy: QR codes are a way to make condom use cool and promote safer sex.
In February 2012, PPGNW distributed about 55,000 condoms, each with a QR code on its individual wrapper. Most of the condoms went to college students. Nathan Engebretson, the new media coordinator at PPGNW, says the QR-coded condoms were a great success -- such a success, in fact, that the organization has prepared another batch of 60,000 condoms, with the promise of more in the future.
How does the project work? And where does the QR code take people when they scan it? Keep reading to find out the details.