Introduction: Encode Data in 2D on Your T-shirts, Business Cards and Stickers !

Picture of Encode Data in 2D on Your T-shirts, Business Cards and Stickers !

QR code ( is a 2D bar code used to encode fair amount of data in a sort of 2D bar code. This code can then be read by cell phones or barcode readers. My choice is for QR Code as it is one of the most used and a simple encoder / decoder for PC and mobile phones is readily available for free.
Another code is Data Matrix ( which is now having some backup from both the US Govt and the electronic industry which is planning to add extra information on top of chips and small components: these would be read by automatic assembly machines for a more reliable and foolproof assembly of boards.
PC and mobile phones encoders/decoders are available for Datamatrix as well, but I went for QR code and basta ! No, actually I tried some free Datamatrix decoders and proved less reliable, on my phone at lest, than the QR decoder I am showing here.
"QR Code is trademarked by Denso Wave, inc. as stated in Denso Wave's" this is what can be read on Wikipedia and on Denso Wave's homesite but we can read also that ( "QR Code is open in the sense that the specification of QR Code is disclosed and that the patent right owned by Denso Wave is not exercised.".

And that's great because this opens to a great deal of opportunities.

...Follow me then and you'll have Y2010 business cards also.

Note (01/02/08) :
Jaxo System's web address has moved to (thank you, jackOjack)

Step 1: Parts Needed

Picture of Parts Needed

You'll need the following:

Some text to 2D-encode (and worth to decode !).
A PC with a Web browser and Java VM : Windows or Linux doesn't matter for the encoding process.
The decoder applet for your camera-equipped mobile (if you want to decode also, I want).

The text for me will be and , the latter being the place where I post my projects I can't make an Instructable. Both worth to me to encode and print on stickers, business cards and T-shirts.

The PC can be any, equipped with a web browser and Java.
Jaxo Systems ( ) makes software for image processing also and provide decoding Java applications for mobile phones and PCs to acquire and decode various bar codes (2D included) and free to download.
In their homepage you can encode your text and save the 2D representation as a graphic file ready for print.
You can also download the jar file to execute as a stand alone application.

Use is granted by Jaxo Systems for personal use only, as stated in their homepage.

Below is a roundup of addresses found by readers and posted in comments.
Many of them have downloads for mobile phones, some others have directions for others sites also. (suffering HD failure as of 31/01/08)

Step 2: Encode

Picture of Encode

Go to
In the Java applet click on file->new to start from scratch. Type or paste your text in the message window. While you type the 2D encoding while appear on the left in the preview panel.

When you're done select file->save as...
The saved image can now be resized and incorporated in logos or prepared to be printed on stickers, flyers, business cards or T-shirts along your logo or, say, the instructable robot.

That's not it. The applet gives much more.
Infact, very interesting an option allows the user to include details like mobile phone numbers and domain names to make them directly accessible by the phone and save them in the telephone directory or send an SMS to or open the web page directly on the phone without typing anything. No typing errors!

Too bad the applet for my phone (Sony Ericsson K750) apparently do not control the macro mode so closeup pictures of 2D logos on business cards are too out of focus to be decoded. Hopefully a newer release of the java applet for my phone will solve the problem.

Anyways, just shoot with the phone a QR-encoded business card and a few clicks away contact details will be in the directory.

Step 3: Decode

Picture of Decode

Back to Jaxo System's homepage, in the left pane you can download the decoder for your mobile phone. It's a jar file you have to transfer to your mobile and then install according to your phone's manual. On my Sony-Ericsson everything went smooth.

Now start the mobile reader on your phone, point the camera to the code and shoot the photo. You'll be likely required to permit the camera to take pictures, just click ok...

Final notes:
License plates like the ones seen on "The 5th element" and based on regular 1D bar codes are surpassed already. Think at the contacts that could be sent through dynamic arrays of LEDs or LCD TV screens, all without the need of radiofrequency.

What I described here is a suite of applications which were already in the minds of the designers of the 2D codes, I did not invent anything.
Possibly someone already prints T-shirts and business cards like the ones described here : I just wanted to make a roundup of these design opportunities for the community to enjoy.


bobbell (author)2015-03-02

I downloaded the 2D barcode decoder and successfully encoded the barcode on my business cards.It's very helpful.

eligreen (author)2013-02-04

cool, but you know what, I got a tattoo of barcode on my head. Besides, can I use some other colors, you know I can not always wear a white T-shirt.

stratholm (author)2008-01-19

This is a great instructable! Here is one for you all:

belgvr (author)stratholm2011-12-12

never laughed so hard looking at my phone

DavidRobertson (author)stratholm2009-01-02

Never ask a naked man to point north!

Dean AAron (author)2011-11-17

That's cool! I've heard about it before and would like to have a try~
This is a comprehensive barcode professional website ( and I used it a lot.
Complete barcode solutions for .NET, Java, and Smartphones are provided here. Easy and efficient to use, so try them at following web sites.

mobosurvey (author)2011-11-16

mobosurvey says: With you can create forms/surveys and distribute through QR code. The forms/surveys will have the native look and feel to your visitor's device (mobile, desktop, or tablet).

bennettcrew (author)2011-04-25

My brother makes custom furniture / art deco pieces, and tags them with QR. As the piece sits in someone's lobby or other such place, if someone is interested in it, they scan the QR, it takes them directly to the webpage for that particular one, and they can purchase it via paypal, right from their phone! The site also allows them to contact him, or browse other pieces of furniture / art. Your point of using it at historical landmarks is something I was just thinking about a few days ago, prior to reading this. A local community is looking into some more "interactive" things, and my suggestion would be to use these things for a "walking tour" type of situation.

chilll2009 (author)2011-01-28

You can print qr to cafe press

brendon_S80 (author)2010-12-19

brilliant stuff!. The list of scanners is pretty good even though there are a good more out there. Google has its own project (java and objective C) scanner if any ones looking - 'zxing project' - just do a google search.

Sticking to the theme of this page...I think there are a great more uses which havent yet been spoken of in the forum,

Ive stumbled across a site which has many more ways to encode data into the 2d barcode. The 2d barcode business card is there but they also have a 2d barcode map which someone plugged into google maps! you can find a location which stores itself in the qr code, then when scanned it opens up the mapping software on your phone too and asks if you want directions.  There's the standard 2d barcode which can store data, and of course the 2d barcode sms! - when I used the site it was all free of charge!

I think these 2d barcodes are fantastic! and Rumour has it we will see huge uptake with them next year!

Happy creating! and scanning everyone.

mgalica (author)2010-06-01

Here’s another approach that's focused on sharing your social networks + be able to edit it in the future + see the analytics!

Here’s mine:

Tip: if you add a plus sign to the above URL you can see some cool analytics!

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2010-04-17

nice! now I just need a laser scanner... 

pie R []ed (author)2010-04-06

I have seen this concept used in 3D. the patch is still 2D but if you send it through a program it pops out as a 3D image. If you rotate the patch the image rotates to show its side.

DesignsWright (author)2008-03-30

Jaxo seems to work great for me. Check out my "Business Code".

Indy (author)DesignsWright2010-03-11

Before you put that on a business card you should consider using the "Contact Info" data type for the QR code. You've got the information in plain text, but some phones/readers, such as the Android phone, can parse QR data as a contact and import it into the phone book with the appropriate fields already filled in.  Here's a page I use:

The Cross Stitch Instructable
uses the Contact Info format, so you can check out that page with your phone to see if it detects the difference.

In the drop down box, the second entry is "Contact information" and "Text" is second to last.  Other standard data types that can be generated with that page are: Calendar event, Email address, Geo location, Phone number, SMS, and URL.

QR Code also has support for Japanese characters.  Unfortunately,QR codes just have a fairly stand ASCII alphabet and a decent Japanese alphabet, but no other character sets or unicode, as it was only designed for those languages.  I'm willing to bet if QR Codes catch on, a unicode datatype will be created.

Daniel Wright
Freelance Photographer
(920) 598-0956

Thats naughty....

dombeef (author)Sgt.Waffles2008-09-15

what is it

smush (author)2008-09-26

Hi I've tested this decoder, I'm thinking how it may work. I tested it on 3 different cell phones including Java mobile way even to install 2 of them (BBerry + HTC). On the N6280 the installation is ok but, unfortunately, I wasn't able to read any QR barcode (except the huge ones) and it takes time to decode. Is someone making the same experience or am I wrong somewhere ?

itsthatsguy (author)smush2010-02-27

If you have an android phone (most new HTC and some others) Google Goggles can read qR

I Got A Cup Productions (author)2009-06-29

This is Awesome! And Easy Too! I cant wait to put codes all over the place!

Tool Using Animal (author)2008-01-17

This is super sweet, now I can have t shirts of all my favorite pick up lines such as

5a"If I said you had a beautiful body would you take your pants off and dance around a bit?"

yes lol


5Volt (author)Tool Using Animal2008-01-17

Does your pickup line work ? LOL

Tool Using Animal (author)5Volt2008-01-18

Only on my wife.

I'm surprised it works on her

I could try but I'm not very good at dancing!

Joe Martin (author)Joe Martin2008-01-17

Also this works fine on my K750i just to let you know.

5Volt (author)Joe Martin2008-01-17

OK, excellent. Thank you.

It doesn't support treo's =[

dombeef (author)2008-09-25

can you help my nokia 6103 wont work!

Jake Turner (author)2008-01-19

Hey guys, pull out your decoder applets!

schetleft (author)Jake Turner2008-01-19

14Drink your ovaltine?

Jake Turner (author)schetleft2008-01-20

Yep, minus the 14.

ratgod (author)Jake Turner2008-01-24

wasn't it "be sure to drink your ovaltine" if your quoting the same movie I'm thinking of

Tobita (author)ratgod2008-08-30

"remember to set your decoder rings to B2" was it B2 or B12? i can't remember

Jake Turner (author)ratgod2008-01-24

maybe, but i haven't seen it in a long while, so who knows?(...wikipedia...)

skorj (author)Jake Turner2008-02-04

`14Drink your Ovaltine` is what my Infobar keitai tells me...

techmonster (author)2008-08-23

is there a reader for the krazr

dchall8 (author)2008-01-24

Someone just pointed me to a database program for your books, movies, CDs, and games. It makes your webcam camera a barcode reader. You wave your CD barcode in front of the webcam and the database goes to Amazon to download all the information about your CD (or book, etc.). I'm sure it also will tell you, "People who bought your book also bought..." BUT the point is you can turn any camera into a barcode reader. Pretty soon everything will have a barcode on it, and I'm not just talking about the box it comes in. We'll all be doing inventory control in our homes. Every time we take something out of the refrigerator the scanner in the door jam will notice what it was. If you don't put it back in the fridge in a few minutes, the alarms go off to remind you to put it back. To turn off the alarm you will either punch the "I used it all" button or you can return it to the refrigerator. Either way the home computer will take note and start printing a future shopping list for you. When will money have barcodes??? Maybe it already does (cue the Twilight Zone music).

Sgt.Waffles (author)dchall82008-06-09

You can buy a cheap scanner called a "cat" (play on "mouse") that does the same thing, without the jerry rigging.

5Volt (author)Sgt.Waffles2008-06-10

Yes, but does it stay in a cell phone ?

Polymorph (author)dchall82008-01-26

So... don't keep us in suspense, what program?

dchall8 (author)Polymorph2008-02-06

I'm sorry. I didn't see your question. Libra is the program.

bobba (author)Polymorph2008-02-06

delicious library

Ward_Nox (author)2008-04-12

anyone found one that works for Verizon

e-hizzle (author)2008-04-11

hey i have a samsung sch-A930 can anyone help me find a decoder because i'v been loking for an hour but cant find anything

shakes4448 (author)2008-04-04

the one i downloaded from i-nigma works very well Black Jack 2 windows mobile 6...very quick...first one i tried so i guess thats that.

About This Instructable




More by 5Volt:USB bronze bell striking clock (with Arduino)Build a real bell-striking clock for your PC and a fire extinguisher-striking clock.Encode data in 2D on your T-shirts, business cards and stickers !
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