(PhysOrg.com) -- Google recently sent out 100,000 stickers to selected US businesses for use on their storefront windows. The stickers have the Google Maps logo and a QR code that can be scanned by smart phone cameras and display Google listings for the business on the phone screen.
A QR (Quick Reference) code is a variation of a barcode, having a pixilated rectangular image rather than a series of stripes. QR codes first appeared in 1994.
The businesses chosen by Google are designated "Favorite Places" and were selected on the basis of the number of searches made for the business on Google Maps. If the business chooses to stick the decal on their store window, smart phone users can scan the QR code using the phone's camera, and Google listings about the place are displayed. The listings can include information such as reviews, details of opening times, contact information, prices, links to the website, and so on.
QR codes have been widely used in Asia for some times, and in places such as Japan the QR code readers are built in to smart phones. In Japan QR codes appear on items such as food packaging, restaurants, bus stops, and real estate agents' windows. When the codes are scanned, additional appropriate information is displayed on the smart phone, such as suggested recipes, calories and nutritional information, menus, bus timetables, and floor plans for real estate for sale.
In the U.S. smart phone users will first have to download and install an appropriate QR code reader. When the QR code is scanned, they will then have to give a number of permissions before the information is displayed, and this slows the process down from a single-click in Japan to a 45-second procedure in the U.S.
Google is also introducing the sharing of business coupons via QR codes. When the code is scanned the smart phone will display a coupon or voucher that can be redeemed in the store from the image on the screen.
The QR code system allows Google to advertise to people who are not at their computers, and advertisers have the benefit of knowing that the people being reached are in a position to use their services.
Google expects the QR code system to work effectively with the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android, but says it should work with many other smart phones as well.
More information: Favorite Places on Google
© 2009 PhysOrg.com
Explore further: Wall Street Journal takes computers offline after hacking