In Japan, point, shoot to be an informed consumer

July 26, 2004, as reported by While the U.S. is still enthralled with cameras embedded in its cellphones, the technology savvy Japanese have long since bored by the technology. Today Japanese camphone carriers have a whole new world of opportunities open to them in the form of small 1 cm-wide square barcodes.

These barcodes, called QR (quick response) codes can be found hidden all over Japanese products from business cards to books to yes, even broccoli. Camphones then act like a scanner taking a picture of the barcode and returning the user with immediate additional information on the product.

Food producers are among the eager to make use of the new technology. Dole has introduced the QR code on their broccoli that when scanned will bring customers to a website displaying data on the name of the producer, the type of fertilizer and even recipe ideas, while tea merchant Nihon-Seicha Co. is marketing a green tea dubbed Traceabili-tea that will offer similar information on its product.