your-news image
PARMA, ID -- High-tech's cutting edge was made even sharper for the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee recently when the organization began utilizing two-dimensional, or 2-D, codes.

The codes stem from trademarked technology developed in 1994 by Denso Wave Inc. of Japan and are also known as QR, or quick response. They provide the user with literally unlimited tracking capabilities using just a smartphone. Now on board with the technology, the IEOOC has linked its current onion recipe contest and its shippers' list to the codes. For the curious, a quick cell phone shot of the graphics provided with this article will provide instant access to the IEOOC's Bigonions.com web site.

According to Sherise Jones, marketing director for the IEOOC, making the leap to 2-D codes was in fact a short hop.

"We conceived the idea in 2009," Ms. Jones said of code utilization. "So much is being done through new technology, and we realized this reaches unlimited numbers of consumers and buyers. It can also be very cost-effective."

She continued, "I was asked by a shipper to look into the feasibility, and as I did, I ran across a growing interest in quick response codes. The codes have really caught on as a marketing tool in Asia and Europe, and now they are being used here in the United States on billboards and packaging."

The codes, similar to ubiquitous bar codes but "on steroids," are decoded at high speeds when read by smartphone cameras.

"The great thing about 2-D codes is that when a phone number or web site is listed on the web page that comes up with a code scan -- like the shippers' list, for instance -- the phone user can put his arrow on the phone number and click to call right from the screen or click the web page to go straight to the site."

While the two-dimensional QR codes were devised for tracking in vehicle manufacturing, they have found applications in nearly every aspect of marketing and advertising.

According to Wikipedia, stored addresses and URLs can be found in magazines, on billboards, buses, business cards and "just about any object that users might need information about."

Many smartphones come with the QR reader app already loaded, but it can also be downloaded at no cost from Scanlife.com.

"We have been marketing Bigonions.com for a number of years," Ms. Jones said of the IEOOC web site. "Now we can build codes that take someone in real time to specific pages."

With the codes in place, Ms. Jones said that the committee has "capability to build as many codes as we need."

She went on to say that the codes will be placed in the IEOOC's PMA ads, launching the message to visit the booth and sign up for a special prize. "At [Fresh Summit], the codes will be on the booth display and will launch the shippers' list," she said. "We will also have codes for retailers that launch recipes and other messages."

As QR interest grows in the United States, the IEOOC is working to "send the message that we are on the cutting edge and providing consumers with instant results for their searches," Ms. Jones said.