How Far Can You Damage A QR Code Before It’s Unreadable?

One engineer tried 31 types of distortions.

What does it take to take down a QR code? More than I would have guessed, actually. In a blog post, engineer Nick Berry made a quick response code pointing to his company’s website,, then distorted the code in 31 ways to see which distortions would make the code unreadable to his scanner.

The result is a bit Dr. Seussian. Does it scan with yellow dots? Does it scan with stuff on top? Much more often than I expected, the codes did scan, both for Berry and for me, when I pointed my own phone at them. You can visit Berry’s blog to try them yourself. At the top, Berry also gives a nice explanation of what scanners are looking for in a code, which helps explain why certain distortions do or don’t work.

Data Genetics