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Scanning for car safety

Many of us are becoming familiar with the Quick Response (QR) codes we see on products pretty much everywhere these days. These are the square, mosaic looking codes that we can scan with our smartphones to get information about that product and sometimes be redirected to a website containing buying information and offers.

Many of us are becoming familiar with the Quick Response (QR) codes we see on products pretty much everywhere these days. These are the square, mosaic looking codes that we can scan with our smartphones to get information about that product and sometimes be redirected to a website containing buying information and offers. Few people realise though that the QR technology actually started in the car industry, with a Toyota subsidiary. They introduced the QR system in 1994 to track cars during the manufacturing process and to offer high speed scanning of components. The system took off for smartphones and the like because it is easier and faster to scan than a conventional bar code, with better error correction which makes it more suited to basic phone cameras. The QR can also store far more information in a smaller space than a standard bar code. Now QR codes are making a return to the car industry where they are set to make an important contribution to road safety.

Mercedes Benz are introducing QR code stickers on to their cars as a way of helping the emergency services identify the car and obtain technical information about the model which could be crucial in a serious accident. The QR codes will direct smartphones used by emergency service personnel to a website containing information about the vehicle. This will tell the emergency workers about the location of airbags, batteries, fuel tanks, electric cables and other dangerous components and direct the workers about how to safely cut open damaged vehicles and extract occupants with minimum risk. The system will also help emergency workers instantly identify cars that are damaged beyond recognition.

Up until now, emergency workers had to call in a registration plate to obtain vehicle information in a process that was more time consuming and prone to error. The accuracy and speed of the new system could save lives. Mercedes has announced that it will not seek a patent on the new system, to allow other manufacturers to adopt the scheme. The idea stems from a German automobile club campaign for drivers to keep an A4 paper 'rescue map' inside the sun visor of their cars. Mercedes intends to place a QR sticker inside the fuel tank petrol cap flap and another on the other side of the vehicle, on the main pillar between the doors. The placing of the two stickers reflects the fact that both areas are rarely damaged in the same accident.
 

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