The Greening Of Barcodes
Anyone who does a lot of travel between Asia and North America knows that countries like Japan and South Korea offer consumer technologies years ahead of those available here. It is not surprising then to discover that barcodes (and their graphical derivatives like QR codes) are saturating the consumer marketplace in Asia in ways that are yet to be adopted here.
A QR Code is a matrix code (see the above image) allows its contents to be decoded at high speed. In Japan, camera phones with QR Code reading software are increasingly changing the way consumers access product information. Wireless Watch Japan ran a story last year about the use of QR Codes in supermarkets.
Using their cell phones, Japanese consumers can get detailed product information about the food they consume. For example, they can determine the “origin, soil composition, organic fertilizer content percentage (as opposed to chemical), use of pesticides and herbicides and even the name of the farm it was grown on. Consumers can also access the same information over the Ibaraki Agricultural Produce Net website by inputting a numbered code on each label.”
Magazine ads and articles frequently contain the codes. They are also an essential part of business cards in Japan. The benefits are obvious. Consumers can obtain large amounts of information without the need to enter the data.
A local company, Semacode, is offering solutions for the market. Here is one of their codes in action in a non-traditional way: