2-D bar codes have hit the streets, and consumers are ecstatic! Popularized by Japanese culture, airliners and shipping companies, 2-D bar codes have emerged as a more complex means of storing various data, digitally. Before the emergence of 2-D bar codes, traditional 1-D bar codes solely existed, as a consumer goods and product information system. The information stored in the bar codes cannot be read by humans, but can easily be read by a computer or bar code scanner.
With 2-D bar codes, consumers can get the information they need, on the products they choose. For example, in Japan, public transportation authorities (trains, buses, and trolleys) provide marketing ads for the latest products on the interior and exterior walls of the carriages; somewhere nearby the ad is a 2-D bar code, which can be scanned (with a camera phone), which leads the person who scanned it to that product website, where more information can be obtained about the product, or the where the product may be purchased.
In America, 2-D bar codes have yet to be widely popularized. The world's largest marketing company, Google, has begun marketing these new bar codes. Google has distributed over 190,000 2-D bar codes to retailers, who in turn, display the bar codes in their shop windows. Cell phone manufactures have also begun playing a major role in this new technology. Newly manufactured mobile phones now sport integrated technologies, which allow consumers to snap a shot of the 2-D bar code, and have it decoded, on the spot. Those devices unequipped with similar capabilities can still get the job done. With a phone capable of sending text messages, and an integrated camera, decoding 2-D bar codes is a simple as snapping a shot, and sending it as a text, to companies who provide bar code reading services.