Brazilian barcodes: Rio de Janeiro helps tourists navigate city with pavement mosaics
By Travelmail Reporter
Mail Online: 28 January 2013
If you find yourself admiring the pavement mosaics on your next trip to Rio de Janeiro, look a little closer - they could in fact be 'bar codes' designed to reveal a wealth of information about the spot you are standing on.
Tourism officials in the city have begun embedding two-dimensional black and white QR (Quick Response) codes into the pavements to help tourists find their way around the city.
The first bar codes have been installed in the Arpoador district at the end of Ipanema beach. They have been created using the same black and white stones that decorate the pavements with mosaics of waves, fish and abstract images.
Tourists can download an application to their smartphones or tablets and then photograph the icon. The app then reads the code and takes them to a web site that provides tourist information in Portuguese, Spanish or English, as well as a map of the area.
The information includes the fact that Arpoador enjoys big waves, making it a hot spot for surfing and giving the 500-metre beach nearby the name of "Praia do Diabo", or Devil’s Beach.
You can also discover that the small peninsula is called Arpoador because fishermen once harpooned whales off the shore.
Officials plan to install 30 of the QR codes across the city’s beaches and historic sites so that Rio’s two million foreign visitors can learn about the city as they walk around.
'If you add the number of Brazilian tourists, this tool has a great potential to be useful,' said Marcos Correa Bento, head of the city’s conservation and public works.
Raul Oliveira Neto, a 24-year-old visitor from the Southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, was one of the first to use the icon, and thought the service fitted well with the way people live now. 'We use so much technology to pass information, this makes sense,' he said, noting that he had seen QR codes on tourist sites in Lisbon, in Portugal, where they were first used. 'It’s the way we do things nowadays.'
The first mosaic QR codes were installed in Chiado in Lisbon last year, which mimicked the ancient Portuguese art of decorated cobblestones.