Tested: QR Code Key Ring for Lost Keys

Can a QR code on a key ring really help lost keys find their way home? We put it to the test.

Here's the idea: you attach a QR code to your key ring that, when scanned, opens a texting window with "I found your keys!" set to send to the key owner's phone.

When I saw the instructions for this over at Pumping Station: One, I had just made my first custom QR code, so the idea was pretty exciting to me and I really wanted to have one of these unusual key ring attachments. But later that day, I noticed that two of my three roommates don't have a smartphones. I couldn't help but wonder how many of the people who found my keys would have smartphones, and how many of them would even know what to do with a QR code.

Now, I probably could have done research with statistics and percentages of smartphone users and QR codes and so on, but that sounded boring, so I decided to put this idea to the test.

I went to a local hardware store and had them make some copies of an old key. Then, I printed out a page with the QR code tiled across it and took that sheet to FedEx to get it laminated. I cut out the QR codes into tags, and attached them to 6 key rings with the old keys on them. When someone scanned the QR code, it would compose a new text message that they could send to me to let me know that they found the keys.

I left the keys throughout San Francisco, dropping one at a bus stop, two in Golden Gate Park, one in a parking lot, one in the parking garage at San Francisco State University, and another on a random street in the Sunset District.

A few hours after I dropped the keys in Golden Gate Park, I got a text with the message, "I found your keys!". Needless to say, I was quite excited. I had a brief dialogue with the person who found the keys and they agreed to leave them for me at the Conservatory of Flowers in the park, where I easily found them later. So far, success!

The next day, I got a text about the other key I left in the park. The finder said they had left them by a bathroom, and after some picture messaging, I managed to find the correct bathroom. However, after searching for an hour and texting back and forth with the finder (who was super helpful, by the way), I concluded that somebody else must have taken the key for whatever reason.

As for the key at the bus stop, it took a few days, but I eventually got a text saying that it was still there waiting for me. But when I got there, I found a mangled keychain with the QR code peeled open and the key gone.

As for the others, the QR code could have gotten wrecked or the keys kicked into a bush or down a drain. Here are some tips for those of you who want to make your own:

  • Cut out the QR code you want to laminate ahead of time and make sure you leave a margin of laminating plastic around the edges; that way, the laminate sticks to itself and water can't seep in and ruin the code.
  • Write your cell phone number on the back of the QR code tag, so the finder can still get in touch with you, even if they don't have a smartphone. Avoid giving out a landline phone number, since it could be traced back to your house, giving the finder free entry to your home.
  • Have the person who finds your keys hide them somewhere out of sight so nobody will try to turn them in to a lost and found without letting you know.

The verdict? It's an awesome idea and I suggest doing it, but definitely add your phone number to the back for non-smartphone users.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NetworkingwirelessPhones

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Albert Filice

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?