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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With all of those little black-and-white boxes floating around the world known as QR codes, TheStreet's Jim Cramer gets a lesson from siblings Ross Kenneth Urken and Nicole Urken on what exactly these little squares are used for.

Originally, these QR codes, short for quick response codes, were used in Japan in the early 1990's as a way to track the location of manufacturing parts.

Now, though, they're used as a form of advertising, where consumers can scan the code with an application on their smartphones, which will take them to a webpage containing more information on the given product.

Nicole noted that in 2012, more than 14 million people scanned a QR code, with that number only growing since then.

She added that companies such as

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continue using these because they have seen decent sell-through from providing QR codes.

Ross said that it's a way for advertisers to reinvent the past with the codes. But this time, they leverage their outreach via technology, so consumers can scan something that interests them and check it out later from their mobile devices.

-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich.

Follow @BretKenwell

Bret Kenwell currently writes, blogs and also contributes to Robert Weinstein's Weekly Options Newsletter. Focuses on short-to-intermediate-term trading opportunities that can be exposed via options. He prefers to use debit trades on momentum setups and credit trades on support/resistance setups. He also focuses on building long-term wealth by searching for consistent, quality dividend paying companies and long-term growth companies. He considers himself the surfer, not the wave, in relation to the market and himself. He has no allegiance to either the bull side or the bear side.