A New Way To Click: 2D Barcodes

Friday, August 22, 2008 | 10:58 AM


You may have heard or seen information about a growing technology called 2D bar codes (sometimes called QR, or "Quick Response" bar codes). These bar codes are a way to encode information, just like conventional bar codes - but 2D bar codes can encode significantly more. This information can be read by devices with cameras, such as cellphones. 2D bar codes are especially exciting because they allow readers to "click" on interesting print ads with their cellphones and seamlessly connect to relevant online content.

For example, the 2D bar code here contains the information "www.google.com."

While using a camera phone to read 2D barcodes has been on the mobile scene in Japan for quite some time, the idea is still expanding in North America.

(Photo by Dan Zen, available on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license)

In the launch of a trial of mobile 2D bar code reading in San Francisco, Citysearch posted 2D bar codes in the windows of 580 restaurants and establishments. When users scan a bar code, they are taken to a Citysearch review of the establishment. The beta program is currently being watched by the country's largest cellular carriers.

Michael Liard, a research director at Allied Business Intelligence Inc. believes the Japanese have probably blazed a trail that North Americans will eventually follow.

Ideas for usage of 2D barcodes in North America range from placement on computer products, to replacing ingredients lists and other information typically printed on product packaging. QR codes on products you have at home could be scanned to create a shopping list, or even to get coupons. In the real estate industry, properties for sale can display signs with codes printed on them, so that when house hunters drive by, they can easily stop and scan the code to access information.

Good Morning America recently featured this growing technology, including a segment on how major retailers are using 2D bar codes to facilitate shopping from your cell phone.

There are countless ideas for expansion of the use of 2D bar codes, and Google makes it easy for advertisers to place bar codes in their newspaper ads, through our Consumer Response Tag. For example, Blue Nile, an online diamond retailer, used the bar code in addition to other calls of action in their newspaper ads.

To learn more about how to download the software for reading bar codes, click here, or get started on creating your own CRT with a 2D bar code.

Posted by Anita Tandon & Aly Makishima for the Google Print Ads Team

Sources Used For This Post:

Blackwell, Gerry. "Quick Response Codes Part III : Will North America Embrace the Technology?" SmartPhoneToday

Kim, Ryan. "Bar codes create bridge for window-shoppers." SF Gate.

Story, Louise. "New Bar Codes Can Talk With Your Cellphone." The New York Times.