Here's a scientific fact that cannot be disputed in any way whatsoever: No one knows how, where, or why QR codes became a thing. One day, they were nowhere to be found; the next, we had QR codes popping up on every paper flyer stapled to every telephone pole, restaurant menu, and college bulletin board in the country. Black magic? Possibly. The Illuminati? We've yet to see evidence to the contrary. And yet, despite their apparent ubiquitousness, has anyone really found a decent, novel use for them? Up until this week, we would have said, "Hell no." But, as CES 2021 has shown us, there might finally be a solid use of the image tech: pet identification collars.
A simple backup for personal belongings and pets — The setup is pretty simple: iTag provides customers with pre-manufactured QR codes either printed on adhesive labels or laser-etched onto metal. Users can then set up a profile via iTag's site that allows them to upload a couple photos as well as all the prerequisite contact information. Your pooch and/or feline gets one of the ID tags and... well, that's about it, we suppose. Like we said, pretty simple.
While slapping the QR sticker on something like your smartphone case could be a decent failsafe if Find My iPhone decided to bug out on you, the pessimist inside us doubts the morals of these hypothetical Good Samaritans.
Blame CES, not us — Still unconvinced at the usefulness of QR codes in general? Fair. We remain as skeptical of the utility and origins of those little checkered squares as much as the next person. But CES is a haven for all manner of weird and wacky tech products, from "smart" perfumes, to lipstick printers, to literal Cadillac passenger drones. When you consider those options, QR coded dog tags really are pretty tame.