Arguably one of the most interesting phenomena that you will see at the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil won’t be the games. It can instead be found on the streets of Rio de Janeiro in-between attending matches. The pavement is known the world over for containing everything from geometric patterns to the image of the Queen of Portugal. It is truly a spectacular site. But that’s not all that can be found on the sidewalks of Rio. The local government has installed QR codes on public walkways, as well – and here’s why:
One of the biggest problems facing tourists in foreign countries is that they can get lost without a map or information in their native language. I remember taking a trip to Venice a few years ago, and while it was a beautiful city, navigating the winding, unmarked streets was not easy. Officials in Rio de Janeiro decided to institute a simple solution to the lost and uninformed tourist’s dilemma; QR codes that have been implanted into the pavement! You can whip your smartphone out, scan the QR code that has been laid into the pavement, and you’re immediately brought to a website customized to your exact location, in your native language, with maps and links for additional information.
QR codes – or Quick Response codes – are machine readable two dimensional bar codes that can handle numerals, alphabetic characters, symbols, Japanese, Chinese or Korean characters and binary data. They are used to take a piece of information from transitory media and put it into your cell phone. You can program them to show websites, databases, send text messages, and store bank account information. They have even been popping up with useful information on train tickets.
QR codes, and two dimensional barcodes in general, are being used throughout the world to help establish location. From the human element, to trains, and even robots, two dimensional bar codes are automating our world. In much the same way that Rio de Janeiro is using an ‘old’ technology in a new way, others are using similar ‘old’ barcodes in the warehouse environment.
Amazon, through the use of its Kiva Systems, uses a two dimensional bar code to guide it’s robots through their massive warehouses to fetch orders. It’s well known that Amazon doesn’t use rhyme or reason for where things go in their warehouses: items go wherever the greatest available space can be maximized. Two dimensional barcodes are scattered across the floor at regular intervals all over their warehouse. The Kiva robots read these barcodes and use them to guide their location so they can then guide the product to Amazon’s product pickers.
While we can’t all have the resources of Amazon, the use of QR codes and other variants of the two dimensional barcode have uses all throughout the automation and warehousing industry. The QR code was specifically designed for the Japanese automotive industry, and it shows in its legacy uses. Product traceability, inventory and equipment management, medical records management, mobile marketing, and much more are highly intertwined in the growing atmosphere that QR codes are occupying.
Finally, the total flexibility that QR codes offer enables their use without a thought to the platform or operating system that they are found on. The QR Code is readable across all platforms: Windows, Android, and Apple. Be it Blackberry, Google Glasses, Honeywell, Motorola, or even the Nintendo 3DS, the QR code can be read by any device that can has a two dimensional scanner – which brings us back to your smartphone.
So, whether you’re going to be in Rio for the World Cup this June, for the 2016 Olympics, or just for a visit, be sure to pull out your mobile device and see what the city has to offer!
RAD DeRose is the President & CEO of L-Tron Corporation. With over 30 years of experience in industrial automation and data collection solutions, he brings a deep industry knowledge-base on the challenges faced in the commercial and public safety sectors.