Here's recent video from Fox News that shows how the small town of Lakewood Ranch, Florida has been transformed with Microsoft Tags, one of the 2D barcode standards that are out there:
Although 2D bar codes have been around for a very long time, their use has been limited to mainly tracking inventory and marketing metrics. But with the development of smartphones like the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android phones, these 2D barcodes are unlocking the enormous potential of informational access where none existed before. When smartphone owners scan these 2D barcodes using their phone cameras and a barcode reader app (usually free), they are instantly linked to online content that the creator of the barcode wants a person to see.
The barcodes are identical in function as hyperlinks and URLs are used on the internet, except that they exist in the “real” world, not the world wide web (www). They link what is OFFLINE to what is ONLINE. Never before has society had this type of access so readily available, and all that is necessary is to place these 2D barcode “tags” wherever people may want more information.
For instance, instead of placing an old menu outside a restaurant, the owner could have a 2D barcode made and place it outside. Once scanned, a visitor only only can have access to a menu with images of the food, but also a photographic tour of the restaurant or a welcome video from the chef inside. How much more inviting would that restaurant be to a visitor?
More importantly, that information can be carried away from the restaurant since it travels with the cell phone. Visitors are not confined to stay and look at a menu outside. They can quickly scan the barcode, and view the restaurant information elsewhere and when they would like.