Originally invented by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave back in 1994 to track vehicles during manufacturing, the QR code has now become popular outside the automobile industry thanks to the prevalence of intelligent handheld devices such as smart phones equipped with inexpensive image sensors.
One of the latest companies to use the code in a rather innovative way is the US beer giant Anheuser-Busch. It has recently started to print the QR codes on Budweiser packaging to allow consumers to trace the origins of the beer they hold in their hands back to one of the company's 12 US breweries.
Yes, that's right. By using a smart phone equipped with a free "Track Your Bud" app, beer drinkers across the US can now scan the QR code on their Budweisers, enter the "Born On" date found on bottles and cans, and be taken on a guided tour of the creation of their individual beer by the Budweiser brewmaster responsible for it.
The "Track Your Bud" app provides beer drinkers with an insight into the source and selection of ingredients for the beer, Budweiser's seven-step brewing process, when their beer began beechwood aging and which brewmaster tasted it multiple times throughout its brew cycle to ensure it met Budweiser's standards.
"Track Your Bud also gives consumers insight into where Budweiser's raw materials come from -- including barley farms in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin; and hops farms in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Germany," says Jane Killebrew-Galeski, director of brewing, quality, and innovation for Anheuser-Busch.
While the inventors of the QR code may never have dreamt that the technology that they developed all those years ago would ever be put to such innovative uses, this is clearly the wave of the future.
Indeed, I can't wait until the day when all companies follow the responsible lead set by the US brewing giant. Enabling consumers to trace the origins of the products they purchase directly back to the specific individuals at the company that made them will allow them to see exactly who to contact should anything go wrong.
For more information about the new Budweiser "Track Your Bud" program, check out www.TrackYourBud.com or download the app.