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article imageRio de Janeiro's mosaic sidewalks contain barcodes that link info

By Abigail Prendergast     Jan 26, 2013 in Technology
Rio De Janeiro - QR codes can now be spotted just about anywhere. Rio de Janeiro has taken this technology and incorporated it into its traditional mosaic sidewalks, thus making a tourist attraction that not only looks nice, but puts information at vistors' fingertips.
Now that smartphones can be used to read the new breed of bar codes, known as quick response or QR codes, people can now scan products with their device of choice before taking the purchase plunge.
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as reports the Washington Post, modern day technology is mixing with tradition in order to give tourists quicker information about the city. This has been done by embedding the QR codes into the already existing mosaic sidewalks which happen to be a staple there.
The first few barcodes were installed on Friday at Arpoador, which is a highly well to do neighborhood on a small peninsula sandwiched between Ipanema and Copacabana. The codes were made using the same black and white tiles that create mosaic artwork within the same sidewalks.
With an accompanying smartphone application, onlookers were able to take snapshots of the mosaic QR codes with their phones or tablets before being directed to a website that disbursed information in Brazil's native Portuguese, and also in Spanish and English. A map of the area was also included.
To give an example, certain codes tell tourists that Arpoador's 500-meter (1,640.42-foot) “Praia do Diabo,” (Devil's Beach) has a tendency to accumulate large waves, thus making them popular for surfing. They even give an explanation for the meaning, Arpoador, which means "harpoon thrower," in English. It actually gets the name from fishermen who, long ago, "harpooned whales off the shore."
The city aspires to sell 30 of the mosaic QR codes "at beaches, vistas, and historic sites," allowing the annual influx of around 2 million tourists to learn about Rio in a modern-meets-traditional fashion.
“If you add the number of Brazilian tourists, this tool has a great potential to be useful,” said Marcos Correa Bento, who is commander-in-chief "of the city’s conservation and public works."
A 24-year-old visitor from Porto Alegre, in Southern Brazil, named Raul Oliveira Neto, "was one of the first to use the icon and thought the service fit well with the way people live now."
“We use so much technology to pass information, this makes sense,” he said, pointing out that he had seen things utilizing QR codes before in Portuguese tourist attractions - which happened to be the first place to use the technology for such a purpose. “It’s the way we do things nowadays.”
Rio locals, who have traditionally been responsible for giving tourists directions and city details, thought very highly of the new idea.
“Look, there’s a little map; it even shows you where we are,” said 25-year-old Diego Fortunato, while he was getting the information on his device.
“Rio doesn’t always have information for those who don’t know the city,” Fortunato said, frankly. “It’s something the city needs, that it’s been lacking.”
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