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Looking for codes in all the right places

It’s dimly lit and there’s a slightly unhappy smell surrounding her. There’s flimsy white paper to her right and a metal box to her left.

She’s sitting in the bathroom stall and in front of her is a series of little black and white squares staring back.

Starting out in the auto industry as a new form of using barcodes, QR, or Quick Response codes have been popping up around campus this year – most notably in the bathroom stalls.

“They’re fun to use!” said Judith Carruthers, Career Development director and one of the people behind these back-of-the-stall-door codes.

Using their smart phones, students can download free apps that scan the pixilated codes and lead them to previously stored information. It’s as easy as opening the app and aligning the code within a designated square on the screen where it reads the code instantly through the phone’s camera.

Connecting the codes to Web sites such as Facebook and Blogspot, Carruthers uses them to spark students’ interest.

It works, too.

“I got bored,” senior Brendan Silkey explained, “I was like, I’m going to try this out.”

This was the general response from students who had scanned these square bathroom codes.

Senior Lindsay Carlton scanned the codes “just out of curiosity.”

It has even caught the attention of students without smart phones.

“It sparked my interest — a little bit,” senior Stephanie Terry commented, though she says she might not scan them even if she had the capability to do so.

But, Carruthers has this problem covered too.

“If people don’t have that kind of phone, I’ll put the Web site,” she said. That way, she said, students without the instant access that QR codes provide, can still find the same information contained behind the codes.

Career Development isn’t the only entity on campus using this technology.

The Wellness Center also has newsletters that have QR codes.

“We use them to connect to our Facebook, activities, and schedule,” said Barbara McCall, Campus Wellness Education coordinator who also uses them because, like Carruthers, she says they’re fun.

Another attraction of the codes for McCall is their environmentally friendly attribute – they use less paper and save space while causing instantaneous access to information.

Local businesses are also jumping in on this new way of sharing information.

Junior Chelsea Wilberg stumbled upon a QR code while at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland with her father.

“He scanned it because we were curious,” she said.

The Paramount Theatre has been using these codes for nearly three months on items like brochures and posters where space is limited. Recently their Web site hits have increased, though officials said it can’t be certain what is specifically causing the increase.

“It’s pretty cool that I can put a one-inch-by-one inch box and get a response,” said Eric Mallette, programming director at the Paramount Theatre.