From Wired Mag.
The Code That Ate Tokyo
The barcode is so dead. In Japan, where they dish out the future like candy, everything from magazine ads to vending machines bears next-generation identifiers called Quick Response codes. They look like extreme close-ups of television static, but QRs encode data in two directions - up-and-down in addition to the old Universal Product Code's across. So QRs can hold 100 times as much info: URLs, text, and even low-resolution images.
Yes, other so-called two-dimensional barcode standards exist. But Quick Response hit the big time in 2003 when cell providers DoCoMo, AU, and Vodafone began selling handsets with QR readers.
Now it succeeds where codereaders likeCueCat failed. You can buy soda pop or scan the QR in a magazine ad with your cell and get taken to a related Web site on your phone's browser. And schoolgirls are going nuts for a series of fortune-telling books full of codes that turn your mobile into a Magic 8 Ball.
Will the codes catch on elsewhere? It's hard to tell. QR is best for ideographic languages like Japanese; other 2-D standards, like the Maxi Code, are showing up in the States. We'll probably know soon - most cool Japanese toys make it to the US eventually