Reading bar codes with mobile phones: Snap it, click it, use it – A new way to deliver information to mobile phones is spreading around the world

Negotiating his way across a crowded concourse at a busy railway station, a traveller removes his phone from his pocket and, using its camera, photographs a bar code printed on a poster. He then looks at the phone to read details of the train timetable displayed there. In Japan, such conveniences are commonplace, and almost all handsets come with the bar code-reading software already loaded. In America and Europe, though, they are only just being introduced.Actually, calling them bar codes is a bit old-fashioned, because they store information in a two-dimensional (2-D) matrix of tiny squares, dots or other geometric patterns, rather than a stripe of black-and-white lines of varying thickness. When an image of the matrix is captured, software in the phone converts it into a web address, a piece of text or a number. If a number, it is sent to a remote computer which responds with an instruction that tells the phone to perform an action associated with that particular bar code.To read this report from The Economist in full, see:
www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14257721

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