Rio de Janeiro is mixing technology with tradition to provide tourists information about the city by embedding bar codes into the black and white mosaic sidewalks that are a symbol of the city.
The first two-dimensional bar codes, or QR codes, as they are known, were installed on Friday at Arpoador, a massive boulder that rises at the end of Ipanema beach in the heart of the city.
The image was built into the sidewalk with the same black and white stones that decorate sidewalks around town with mosaics of waves, fish and abstract images, locals said.
The launch of the new bar code system attracted onlookers, who downloaded an application to their smartphones and tablets and photographed the icon with great awe and expectation.
After scanning, the application read the code and they were then taken to a website that gave them information in Portuguese, Spanish or English, a map of the area and other related information.
They learned, for example, that Arpoador gets big waves, making it a hot spot for surfing and giving the 500-meter beach nearby the name of “Praia do Diabo,” or Devil’s Beach. They could also find out that the rock is called Arpoador because fishermen once harpooned whales off the shore.
The city plans to install 30 of these QR codes at beaches, vistas, and historic sites, so Rio’s approximately 2 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.